The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency of the U.S. that oversees safety in the workplace. Unlike some codes that regulate building safety, OSHA codes are mandatory, and entities that violate often them face stiff fines.
As an example of the expense that OSHA violations can incur, the United States Post Office (USPS) faced over $2.5 million in fines for a series of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E violations in 2010 alone. For fire egress safety violations at multiple facilities within the same company, OSHA fines can be similarly costly. The best way to prevent such fines, of course, is to make buildings compliant with OSHA regulations.
OSHA regulations for exit routes
OSHA has several fire egress regulations and requirements for exit routes in commercial buildings. These regulations and requirements are contained in OSHA standard number 1910.36, which addresses design and construction requirements for exit routes. Below are the requirements for indoor exit routes concerning their section numbers.
OSHA requirements for indoors exit routes
1910.36 (a)(1) states that all exit routes must be a permanent part of the workplace. This means that routes that are available temporarily do not count as building exits.
1910.36 (a)(2) states that a building exit must be “separated by fire resistant materials.” These materials must have a one-hour fire resistance rating if an exit (i.e. vertical exit enclosure) connects to three stories or less, and a two-hour resistance rating if it connects to four or more stories.
1910.36(A)(3) states that “openings into an exit must be limited” to openings that allow access to the exit path or exit discharge from occupied building areas. The access points must feature self-closing, single-hinged doors that are approved by a recognized testing laboratory according to OSHA Section 1910.155(c)(3)(iv)(A).
1910.36(b)(1) states that at least two exit routes must be present to allow prompt evacuation during an emergency. However, according to 1910.36(b)(3), a single route is permissible when a building’s size, occupancy, and layout would not require a second route. To determine the number of exit routes needed in relation to occupant load and other factors, building owners should consult NFPA 101-2000 (Life Safety Code), which offers other fire egress regulations as well.
Height and width requirements
1910.36(g)(1) and 1910.36(g)(4) set the height and width requirements for exit routes at a minimum of least 6’7” inches and a minimum of at least 28 inches, respectively. Ceiling projections must not fall less than 6’8” from the finished floor, and when only one exit path leads to an exit discharge, it must be at least as wide as the width of its access points. In addition, objects that project into an exit path must not reduce the path’s width to less than 6’7”.
After OSHA regulations are met
The first concern with exit routes is ensuring they meet OSHA regulations. But OSHA compliance is not the final safety measure for emergency egress paths. They should also be outfitted with photoluminescent markings in accordance with the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC). For luminescent egress path markings, Jessup Manufacturing’s patented Glo Brite technology offers superior visibility and burn time, as well as full compliance with a variety of fire egress regulations and safety codes.