Along with several other organizations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs emergency lighting and exit sign requirements. Companies must also comply with the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). The AHJ is the organization in charge of monitoring and enforcing local building codes and fire codes, which may be unique for each city.
OSHA’s 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.34(c) requires that every exit route must be a “continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety.” This requirement applies to all vertical and horizontal areas along the route, and are made up of the three components below.
Exit Access – The section of an exit route that leads to an exit.
Exit – The part of an exit route, aside from other areas, that provides a protected avenue of travel to where the exit discharges.
Exit Discharge – The portion of the exit route leading straight to a sidewalk, street, walkway, public way, refuge area, or open space that has access to the outside of a building.
CFR 1910.37(b) covers OSHA’s requirements for lighting and marking exit routes. It mandates that every exit route must adequately lit, allowing employees with normal vision to see along the exit route. In addition, every exit is required to be clearly visible and marked by an “EXIT” sign with plainly legible letters. Other requirements are summarized below.
• An exit route door is required to be free of signs or decorations that can obscure or conceal its visibility.
• If the direction of travel for the exit or exit discharge is not immediately clear, then always visible signs must be posted to indicate the way.
• A passage or doorway along the exit access must have a “Not an Exit” sign or marked by a sign stating its actual use.
• Every exit sign must be lit for a surface value of a minimum of 5 foot candles by a dependable and distinctively colored source of light.
Part 2 will cover Emergency Lighting Requirements.
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