5 tips for safe evacuation

Knowing how and where to evacuate from a workplace before a crisis happens is crucial for keeping employees safe. Employers should prepare employees for a safe exit and make sure their facility’s emergency exit routes and emergency action plans comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Our tips can help.

Safe Evacuation1  Unblock routes and unlock exits

Make sure exit routes are not blocked by materials, equipment, dead-end corridors, and signs or decorations that could prevent employees from seeing exit doors. Keep areas behind the doors unblocked. NEVER lock exit doors from the inside – employees need to know they can always open them. Don’t install alarms or other devices that could fail and keep the doors from working.

2  Design for safety

Check that exit routes are well-lit, support the maximum occupancy load for each floor the route serves, connect to other rooms using side-hinged doors,
and have ceilings at least 7’ 6” high. The exit access (the part of the route leading to an exit) must be at least 28 inches wide at all points. The exit discharge (the part of the route leading to the outside) must be large enough to accommodate everyone likely to use the route.

3  Post clear signs

Show employees where the nearest exits are. Clearly mark each exit with a legible sign and keep the lines of sight visible. Mark doors along an exit route that could be mistaken for an exit as “Not an Exit” or with a sign that identifies the room’s purpose. Post signs along an exit access showing which direction to travel to get to the nearest exit and exit discharge.

4  Consider construction projects

Maintain alternate exit routes when your facility is undergoing construction, repairs, or other changes. Inform employees where the alternate routes are as soon as possible.

5  Don’t forget fire hazards

Keep exit routes free of flammable objects, and renew fire-retardant paint or other solutions when needed. Establish exit routes as far away from each other as possible in case one of the routes becomes blocked by fire or smoke. OSHA requires that exits be separated from the workplace by fire-resistant materials and have openings protected by a self-closing, approved fire door.

 

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Last updated: 02/07/2018

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