What are the safety sign requirements for emergency evacuation signs?

Employers must follow safety sign requirements that come from OSHA and any local building code requirements that the state or county may have. Currently, the only evacuation signs that OSHA actively requires are that of exit signs. 29 CFR 1910.37 describes lighting and marking requirements for emergency exit signs to maximize visibility and the ability to navigate toward the main exits and emergency pathways.

Emergency Exit Regulations

The following regulations are required by law for employers to implement within their own facilities:

  • Each exit route must be lit in a way that allows a person with normal vision to see along the pathway.
  • Each exit must be clearly visible and marked with “Exit.”
  • Every exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that impair visibility of the exit route door.
  • If the exit route isn’t easily pointed out, then signs must be posted to inform employees along the route. There also needs to always be a line of sight to an exit.
  • Any doors that may be mistaken for an emergency exit must be marked as “Not an Exit.”
  • Exit signs must be illuminated to at least 54 lux and be a recognizable color. Electroluminescent signs can have .06 footlamberts at minimum for luminescence.
  • The exit sign must be at least six inches high and written in plain letters with the width of each line at three-fourths of an inch at the minimum.

As for other emergency evacuation signage, the standards and regulations are quite vague, leaving it up to the employer and the local state laws to determine what the safest options are for workers. Regardless, the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, the international fire code, and the international building code heavily imply that AED signs, fire extinguisher signs, evacuation maps, assembly area signs and other emergency signage are all classified as best practice methods for employers to include in their emergency planning program.


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