What does emergency egress mean?

Egress is a term that is quite similar to exit, but it has additional meaning associated with it when it comes to discussing workplace safety and related topics. Egresses in a building need to be planned in such a way as to ensure everyone in a building is able to get out quickly in the event of an emergency. The most common type of egress in this situation is going to be a door that people can easily walk out of. Windows that are sufficiently large and on the ground floor can also be considered an egress, even if it is only to be used in the event of an emergency. If a window on an upper floor connects to a fire escape that can also be classified as an egress.

What Egresses are Essential?Employee leaving emergency exit

When looking at a facility and analyzing the available egresses, it is important to look at a number of factors, including:

  • Distance from Egress – Having an egress located near every work area is necessary. Someone should not have to travel the entire length of a facility to reach the closest exit. Positioning potential egress points all around a facility will help ensure people can escape when needed.
  • Number of People that can Exit – Only a set number of people can fit through an egress in any amount of time. If you have a facility that employees 500 people, but only two single doors as egresses, people won’t be able to get out in the event of a fire or other emergency.
  • Available Egresses – It is typically required that there be at least two potential egresses available for everyone to escape. This is important because if the primary option is blocked off by fire or some other event, people need to have an alternate way to escape. While two is typically the requirement, more is often better.

Whether you are working on designing a new facility, or just looking to update your safety efforts at an existing one, looking at egress points is always important.

Additional emergency egress facts:

    • Emergency egress is a method of exit which people can access safely in an emergency. Many building codes cover emergency egress in detail to ensure that structures are equipped with exits which will safely accommodate people if they need to exit a structure during a fire, chemical spill, or similar emergency. Source: https://www.historicalindex.org/what-is-emergency-egress.htm
    • The International Building Code (IBC) provides the general criteria for designing the means of egress established as the primary method for protection of people in buildings by allowing timely relocation or evacuation of building occupants. The IBC specifies the size, arrangement, number and protection of means of egress components, such as exit access, exits and exit discharge. Source: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IBC2021P1/chapter-10-means-of-egress
    • The IBC also provides special allowances for the unique requirements for assembly spaces and emergency escape and rescue openings. Assembly spaces are areas where 50 or more people gather for a common purpose, such as theaters, auditoriums, stadiums, etc. Emergency escape and rescue openings are openings that provide access to an exterior area from an interior space where there is no other means of egress. Source: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IBC2021P1/chapter-10-means-of-egress#section1030
    • The IBC requires that assembly spaces have at least one exit that leads directly to an open public way or to an exit discharge from the building. The exit must be clearly marked and have adequate lighting and signage. The exit must also be protected from fire and smoke by fire-resistance-rated construction or other means. Source: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IBC2021P1/chapter-10-means-of-egress#section1030
    • The IBC also requires that emergency escape and rescue openings be located in accordance with the International Fire Code (IFC), which provides additional requirements for these openings. The IFC specifies the minimum size, location, number and protection of these openings, as well as the procedures for their use in case of an emergency. Source: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IBC2021P1/chapter-10-means-of-egress#section1031

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