Exit Routes and Safety Evacuation

Exit route regulations in construction have been in place for many years, but they continue to be enforced to prevent unnecessary hazards on the worksite. OSHA recently cited an Ohio United Parcel Service (UPS) distribution center for repeatedly putting workers at risk by obstructing exit routes where some access routes were reduced to just seven inches. The company faces $208,603 in proposed penalties.

For most workplaces, OHSA recommends at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency—more for larger sites. The exit routes should be located as far away as practical from each other so that if one exit route is blocked by fire or smoke, employees can evacuate using the second exit route. A single exit route is permitted where the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace is such that all employees would be able to evacuate safely during an emergency.

Exit routes should also be free and unobstructed. No materials or equipment may be placed, either permanently or temporarily, within the exit route. The exit access must not go through a room that can be locked, such as a bathroom, to reach an exit or exit discharge, nor may it lead into a dead-end corridor. Stairs or a ramp must be provided where the exit route is not substantially level.

More specifications include:

  • The ceiling of an exit route must be at least seven feet six inches high. Any projection from the ceiling must not reach a point less than six feet eight inches from the floor.
  • An exit access must be at least 28 inches wide at all points. Where there is only one exit access leading to an exit or exit discharge, the width of the exit and exit discharge must be at least equal to the width of the exit access.
  • The width of an exit route must be sufficient to accommodate the maximum permitted occupant load of each floor served by the exit route.
  • Objects that project into the exit route must not reduce the width of the exit route to less than the minimum width requirements for exit routes.
  • Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route and marked by a sign reading “Exit.”

For more information on the proper emergency egress on construction sites, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

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