Formulating and maintaining an efficient exit strategy is not only crucial to the safety of you, your employees, and your customers, but it's also an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requirement that can result in major fines if not followed properly. OSHA emergency exit guidelines are straightforward, but they're also wordy; nailing down a few important aspects before attending to the details of your strategy can help.
Exit Route Components
An exit route is a path by which individuals reach the emergency exit, use the exit opening, and relocate to a safe area. It consists of three parts:
1. Access portion: This is the component of the route that leads to the exit and must be unobstructed at all times.
2. Exit: The exit is the portion of the route that leads to the discharge area.
3. Exit discharge: This area leads to safe, open space outside or with access to the outside that can accommodate all building occupants.
The exit itself is the most complex aspect of the exit strategy as it entails a number of specifications. Exits must be clearly labeled, and the exit door must meet strict standards. According to OSHA, doors must meet the following specifications:
- Be side-hinged
- Swing out toward the exit discharge area
- Fit into an access area that is at least 28 inches wide at all points
- Be self-closing and remain closed and unlocked except in emergencies
- Include approved fire doors made of flame-retardant materials, such as a commercial steel door
Employee Awareness of Exit Procedures
Even the most well-formulated exit strategies are ineffective without comprehensive employee knowledge and practice. Employers need to make sure every employee is briefed on the exit strategy in case of fire or other emergencies upon the employee's hire and periodically throughout the year, especially during inclement weather or as changes are made to the protocol. Employers should consult OSHA to determine the number of exits necessary for their facilities.
A proper exit access point is critical to the quick and safe relocation of building occupants, and it starts with a quality emergency exit door. Perimeter Glass has been installing fire doors that comply with OSHA standards throughout the Jacksonville, FL area since 2001, and we can help you determine the best solution for your company.