In charge of providing safety standards, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is the federal agency that oversees the protection of employees at work. OSHA typically incorporates the safety standards drafted by other organizations. For example, OSHA adopted the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 101-1970, Life Safety Code, for their Sub part E of 29 CFR 1910, Means of Egress (exit).
As a result, every public facility must mark exits clearly to allow people to find the way out in case there is an emergency. Buildings under construction usually install emergency and exit signs prior to opening. Existing buildings that are being remodeled should upgrade to newer types of exit signs and emergency lighting.
As defined by OSHA, “An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of three parts:
- Exit access – portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
- Exit – portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge
- Exit discharge – part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.”
According to OSHA’s 1910.37(b)(1), “Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route.” In addition, 1910.37(b)(2) states, “Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading ‘Exit’.” Quoting 1910.37(b)(3), “Each exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of the exit route door.” Moreover, 1910.37(b)(5) requires that “Each doorway or passage along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit must be marked ‘Not An Exit’ or similar designation, or be identified by a sign indicating its actual use (e.g., closet).”
Should your business require the repair or installation of federally mandated exit signs, it is advisable to seek a professional electrical firm that is knowledgeable regarding the legal requirements. Costly penalties will be enforced upon non-compliance. It is strongly preferable that the company a business chooses to repair or install its exit signs is experienced, state-certified, licensed, and insured for performing this task.
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