Where are emergency exit signs required?

Emergency exit signs, often glowing green or red, are necessary for most every building. Exit sign requirements often go hand in hand with OSHA’s regulations regarding emergency evacuation routes and their three parts; Exit access, exit, and exit discharge. OSHA’s exit sign regulations can be found in 29 CFR 1910.37 “Exit Routes and Emergency Planning.” The NFPA also has a code titled “Life Safety Code 101" , both are good resources for determining where exit signs must go and how they should look.

Grouped in with visual communication, a few of OSHA’s requirements for placement of these signs include:

  • Exit sign placement must include above doors that lead to hallways connected to the primary building exit.
  • If a hallway turns, more exit indicators must be added to show the way out, especially if the exit route isn’t obvious.

To maximize an exit sign’s visibility, OSHA and the NFPA require that these signs must:

  • Be illuminated at all times and also have a backup battery in case there is a power outage.
  • Be in plain legible letters and be a distinctive color.
  • Be vacant of decorations, furnishings, and equipment that may obscure the safety sign.
  • Doors that may be mistaken for an exit must be marked as “No Exit” or “Not an Exit”

Ensuring that these signs are in the right place, illuminated correctly, and not obstructed are essential to employee safety in the event of an emergency. These signs are able to light the way for employees in smoke and power outages—enabling a smooth evacuation to take place within the building. In fact, it would be safe to say that these signs have a higher priority regarding egress routes than what printed evacuation maps can provide. Regardless, both are excellent tools for emergency conditions.

 

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OSHA Safety Signs Guide
 
OSHA Label Samples
 
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