Exit Routes laws & safety compliance analysis

Exit Routes: What you need to know

Employers are responsible for ensuring that employees know what to do in an emergency and how to evacuate the workplace if disaster strikes. All employers in general industry workplaces must comply with OSHA's emergency preparedness and response rules concerning exit routes, except mobile workplaces such as vehicles or vessels. The general industry workplace rules for exit routes are located in the OSHA standards at 29 CFR 1910 Subpart E, and cover:

  • 29 CFR 1910.34-Coverage and definitions
  • 29 CFR 1910.35-Compliance with alternate exit-route codes
  • 29 CFR 1910.36-Design and construction requirements for exit routes
  • 29 CFR 1910.37-Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart E Appendix-Exit Routes, Emergency Action Plans (EAPs), and Fire Prevention Plans (guidance for developing plans)
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OSHA has determined that employers who prefer to follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 101, Life Safety Code (NFPA 101-[most current year]), or the International Fire Code, will be in compliance with OSHA requirements for the design, construction, and operational features of the exit routes standard (29 CFR 1910.34, 1910.36, and 1910.37).

An "exit route" is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit within a workplace to a place of safety (including refuge areas). It consists of three parts: the exit access, the exit, and the exit discharge. An exit route includes all vertical and horizontal areas along the route. Two key points of this definition are the words "continuous" and "unobstructed." Any person must be able to escape by following a clearly marked and unobstructed route from any point in the building or work area.

The construction industry standard for exit routes ...


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