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Safety Tips

Maintaining emergency exits

February 1, 2011

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Maintaining access to emergency exits in the workplace is vital to protecting workers in the event of a fire or other evacuation. OSHA requirements on the number of exits vary according to the size of the workplace and the number of employees, but typically at least two emergency exits are needed. Emergency exits must be separated by fire-resistant materials and protected with a self-closing fire door.                                                                                                                                      

To properly maintain exit routes, OSHA requires employers to:                                                     

  • Keep exits free of explosives, highly flammable furnishings or other decorations.
  • Arrange exit routes so employees will not have to travel toward unprotected high-hazard areas.
  • Ensure exit routes are unobstructed by materials, equipment, locked doors or dead ends.
  • Regularly check that all emergency safeguards are in good working order.
  • Provide adequate lighting along exit routes.
  • Install exit signs in clearly legible letters.
  • Maintain all exit routes during construction, repairs or renovations. 
  • Post signs along the emergency route indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit.
  • The line-of-sight to an exit sign must be clearly visible at all times.
  • Clearly mark doors or passages along an exit route that could be mistaken for an exit. Post signs that read "Not an exit," or identify the door's purpose (i.e., "Closet").
  • Renew fire-retardant paints or solutions often enough to maintain their fire-retardant properties.

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