OSHA standards for emergency exits require employers to do the following:
■ Keep exit routes free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings and other decorations.
■ Arrange exit routes so employees will not have to travel toward a high-hazard area unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high-hazard area.
If an exit route is through a backroom, between 2 giant stacks of cardboard boxes, or similar material, it probably won’t meet this standard.
■ Ensure that exit routes are unobstructed such as by materials, equipment, locked doors, or dead-end corridors.
■ Ensure that safeguards designed to protect employees during an emergency remain in good working order.
■ Provide lighting for exit routes adequate for employees with normal vision.
■ Keep exit route doors free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of exit route doors
■ Post signs along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge if that direction is not immediately apparent. Also, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must be clearly visible at all times.
■ Install “EXIT” signs in plainly legible letters.
■ Renew fire-retardant paints or solutions often enough to maintain their fire-retardant properties.
■ Maintain exit routes during construction, repairs, or alterations.
■ Provide an emergency alarm system to alert employees, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide adequate warning to them.
I hope you understand these guidelines, use them as a baseline for your own emergency exits and exit routes. Check out your own business, or contact me and I will happily discuss setting up an audit, or just answer some of your questions.