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

Requirements for Exit Routes

Exit Route Definition

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.

Basic Requirements

fpp

  • 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.
  • 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.

Number of Exits

  • The number of exit routes should be adequate. (Question: What's wrong with the exit in the photo?)
  • At least two exit routes should be available in a workplace to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency.
  • fpp30

  • 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. (Answer: The exit is blocked in the photo!)

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

Exit Discharge

exithallway

  • 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. The walkway in the photo to the right is partially blocked by stored items.
  • 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.
exithallway

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.

Door Swing

fpp

  • 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!

fpp

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.

Height and Width Requirements

fpp

  • 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.
fpp

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).

Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Which of the following is that 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?

2. Which of the following is NOT a requirement of an exit route?

3. At least _____ exit route(s) should be available in a workplace to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency.

4. When may an exit door be locked from the inside?

5. When must the door that connects a room to an exit route swing out?


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.