Course 629 Planning for Workplace Emergencies

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier
Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire - CBS News

Exit Route Requirements

For an Emergency Action Plan to work, it's important that thought and planning is given to exit routes. An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of three parts:

  1. Exit access - 29 CFR 1910.36(a)(3) portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
  2. Exit - portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
  3. Exit discharge - part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.

Check out this short video that covers exit routes and emergency action plans.

1. Which of the following are criteria for exit routes?

a. There must open inward from the outside
b. They must be numerous and properly color-coded
c. They must be continuous and unobstructed
d. There must be one exit for each 10 employees

Basic Requirements

Exit doors
Exit doors must be a permanent part of the workplace.

The following are basic requirements for exit routes in the workplace:

  • An exit route must be permanent. Each exit route must be a permanent part of the workplace.
  • An exit must be separated by fire resistant materials. Construction materials used to separate an exit from other parts of the workplace must have a one-hour fire resistance rating if the exit connects three or fewer stories and a two-hour fire resistance-rating if the exit connects four or more stories.
  • Openings into an exit must be limited. An exit is permitted to have only those openings necessary to allow access to the exit from occupied areas of the workplace, or to the exit discharge.
  • Opening must be protected. An opening into an exit must be protected by a self-closing fire door that remains closed or automatically closes in an emergency upon the sounding of a fire alarm or employee alarm system. Each fire door, including its frame and hardware, must be listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

2. Exits must be constructed with materials that have _________ if they connect three or fewer stories in a building.

a. non-flammable properties
b. a one-hour fire resistance rating
c. four-hour breakthrough time
d. 30-minute penetration rating

Number of Exits

The following are basic requirements for the number and location of exits in the workplace:

  • The number of exit routes should be adequate.
  • At least two exit routes should be available in a workplace to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency.
  • Never block exits
    Never block exits.
  • 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.
  • More than two exit routes should be available in a workplace if the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace is such that all employees would not be able to evacuate safely during an emergency.
  • 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.

For assistance in determining the number of exit routes necessary for your workplace, consult NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.

3. What determines the number of exits that must be available in a building?

a. NFPA 1910.150, Chapter 7, Ingress and Egress
b. The number of employees within a specific worksite
c. The ability of all employees to evacuate safely in an emergency
d. The type and nature of the building construction
123rf photo
Exit routes must clearly direct employees outside.

Exit Discharge

The following are requirements for exit discharge:

  • Each exit discharge must lead directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.
  • The street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space to which an exit discharge leads should be large enough to accommodate the building occupants likely to use the exit route.
  • Exit stairs that continue beyond the level on which the exit discharge is located should be interrupted at that level by doors, partitions, or other effective means that clearly indicate the direction of travel leading to the exit discharge.

4. Each exit discharge must lead _____.

a. eventually to an outside space or fire-protected room
b. directly outside or open space with access to the outside
c. to a location that allows employees to access an outside space
d. into a safe space with the building or to the outside
Do not lock exits
Exit doors must not be locked. Remember the Triangle Fire!

Locking Arrangements

The following are requirements for exit door locking arrangements:

  • An exit door should be unlocked from the inside.
  • Employees should be able to open an exit route door from the inside at all times without keys, tools, or special knowledge.
  • A device such as a panic bar that locks only from the outside is permitted on exit discharge doors. The door to the right is blocked and the exit sign is not illuminated.
  • Exit route doors should be free of any device or alarm that could restrict emergency use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails.
  • An exit route door may be locked from the inside only in mental, penal, or correctional facilities and then only if supervisory personnel are continuously on duty and the employer has a plan to remove occupants from the facility during an emergency.

5. When may exit doors be locked?

a. Never, with no exceptions
b. In any facility as long as a supervisor is present
c. At commercial food facilities with 24/7 workshifts
d. At correctional facilities when continuously supervised

Door Swing

123rf photo exits must open out
Exit doors must open out - in the direction of exit travel.

The following are requirements related to exit door swing:

  • A side-hinged exit door should be used.
  • A side-hinged door should be used to connect any room to an exit route.
  • The door that connects any room to an exit route must swing out in the direction of exit travel if the room is designed to be occupied by more than 50 people or if the room is a high hazard area (i.e., contains contents that are likely to burn with extreme rapidity or explode).

See Photo: What's wrong with this picture? Never hold fire doors open. The door should be self-closing, not blocked or held open!

Exit Route Capacity

  • The capacity of an exit route should be adequate.
  • Exit routes must support the maximum permitted occupant load for each floor served.
  • The capacity of an exit route may not decrease in the direction of exit route travel to the exit discharge.

6. The door that connects a room to an exit route must swing out in the direction of exit travel if the room _____.

a. is capable of holding all evacuees in an emergency
b. can occupy more than 50 people or is a high hazard area
c. is between the door and the exit discharge
d. is regulated by the NFPA

Height and Width Requirements

123rf photo exit door dimensions
Exit doors and exit routes must meet height and width requirements.
  • An exit route must meet minimum height and width requirements.
  • The ceiling of an exit route should be at least seven feet six inches (2.3 m) high. Any projection from the ceiling must not reach a point less than six feet eight inches (2.0 m) from the floor.
  • An exit access should be at least 28 inches (71.1 cm) 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 should be at least equal to the width of the exit access.
  • The width of an exit route should 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.

7. What is the minimum width of an exit route?

a. 28 inches
b. 30 inches
c. 36 inches
d. 42 inches
123rf photo
Exit doors must open out - in the direction of exit travel.

Outdoor Exit Routes

  • An outdoor exit route must have guardrails to protect unenclosed sides if a fall hazard exists.
  • The outdoor exit route should be covered if snow or ice is likely to accumulate along the route, unless the employer can demonstrate that any snow or ice accumulation will be removed before it presents a slipping hazard.
  • The outdoor exit route should be reasonably straight and have smooth, solid, substantially level walkways.
  • The outdoor exit route must not have a dead-end that is longer than 20 feet (6.2 m).

8. An outdoor exit route must _____.

a. have a supply of deicer in case of snow or ice accumulation
b. not have more than three 90-degree redirections
c. not have a dead-end longer than 20 feet
d. have guards if a fall hazard of 10 feet or more exists

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Optional Video

In this video by Emedco, learn what do to in any situation requiring immediate evacuation, such as fire, explosion or hazardous material spill.

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