Why Your Building Should Have Emergency Exits
Having a clear and safe way to evacuate people in the event of a disaster is essential in any building. Emergency exit routes are purposefully designed to cater to this. Besides providing a safe and clear means for evacuation, emergency exit routes also provide first responders with easy access to the building during a disaster. One of the most crucial aspects of a workplace Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is identifying and maintaining emergency exits and exit routes. In a bid to help improve safety within commercial buildings, the U.S. Occasional Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided a fact sheet that allows property owners to better understand emergency exit routes.
What exactly is an emergency exit route?
According to OSHA, an emergency exit route is a clear and continuous path of egress from anywhere within the workplace to a safe location.
The three components of an exit route:
- Exit access – This is the section of the route that leads to an exit. According to OSHA regulations, exit access should be a minimum of 28 inches wide at all points.
- Exit discharge – This is the section of the route that leads people directly outside, or to a walkway, street, public way, refuge area, or an open area leading outside.
- Exit – In order to ensure a safe path of travel to the exit discharge, the exit is typically separated from other areas.
Why fire exits and exit routes should be clear and unobstructed?
Having clear and unobstructed exit access and exit routes allows for a swift and protected exit should a crisis arise. Blocked and obstructed exit routes and doors will only lead to confusion, panic, and delays during an emergency and pose a further safety risk. OSHA requires that exit routes should be clear of any materials, locked doors, equipment, or dead-end corridors. In addition, exit routes should have proper lighting and other elements.
What is the recommended number of exit routes within a workplace?
While OSHA requires that a workplace should have a minimum of two emergency routes, more might be needed depending on the traffic and size of the building. However, small-sized businesses where people can safely exit in case of an emergency are exempt from this rule. In such a case, a single route is adequate. It is your legal duty as an employer to ensure that you fully comply with federal regulations and also ensure that the number of exit routes suits the size of your company.
What kinds of businesses are obligated to have an emergency action plan (EAP)?
According to OSHA, all workplaces that have more than 10 employees should come up with a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP) detailing the procedures and responses employees should follow in the event of a crisis.
Specialty Fire Services advises all businesses and homeowners to consider the importance of putting in place fire escape plans. Additionally, we recommend installing fire alarms, fire sprinklers, amongst other tools and equipment that can minimize the impact of a fire. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the services we offer. Visit our blog for more related articles.