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US Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which formed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s goal is to help employees and employers minimize on the job injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

While the ICC and NFPA go in depth about fixture and building design parameters, OSHA CFR 1910 focuses on maintenance, safeguards, and operational features of egress routes. Below is an excerpt from Subpart E: Means of Egress


The danger to employees must be minimized.


Exit routes must be kept free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings or other decorations.


Exit routes must be arranged so that employees will not have to travel toward a high hazard area, unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high hazard area by suitable partitions or other physical barriers.


Exit routes must be free and unobstructed. No materials or equipment may be placed, either permanently or temporarily, within the exit route. The exit access must not go through a room that can be locked, such as a bathroom, to reach an exit or exit discharge, nor may it lead into a dead-end corridor. Stairs or a ramp must be provided where the exit route is not substantially level.


Safeguards designed to protect employees during an emergency (e.g., sprinkler systems, alarm systems, fire doors, exit lighting) must be in proper working order at all times.


Lighting and marking must be adequate and appropriate.


Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route.


Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading "Exit."


Each exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of the exit route door.



If the direction of travel to the exit or exit discharge is not immediately apparent, signs must be posted along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge. Additionally, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must clearly be visible at all times.


Each doorway or passage along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit must be marked "Not an Exit" or similar designation, or be identified by a sign indicating its actual use (e.g., closet).


Each exit sign must be illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles (54 lux) by a reliable light source and be distinctive in color. Self-luminous or electroluminescent signs that have a minimum luminance surface value of at least .06 footlamberts (0.21 cd/m2) are permitted.


Each exit sign must have the word "Exit" in plainly legible letters not less than six inches (15.2 cm) high, with the principal strokes of the letters in the word "Exit" not less than three-fourths of an inch (1.9 cm) wide.


The fire retardant properties of paints or solutions must be maintained. Fire retardant paints or solutions must be renewed as often as necessary to maintain their fire retardant properties.


Exit routes must be maintained during construction, repairs, or alterations.


During new construction, employees must not occupy a workplace until the exit routes required by this subpart are completed and ready for employee use for the portion of the workplace they occupy.


During repairs or alterations, employees must not occupy a workplace unless the exit routes required by this subpart are available and existing fire protections are maintained, or until alternate fire protection is furnished that provides an equivalent level of safety.


Employees must not be exposed to hazards of flammable or explosive substances or equipment used during construction, repairs, or alterations, that are beyond the normal permissible conditions in the workplace, or that would impede exiting the workplace.


An employee alarm system must be operable. Employers must install and maintain an operable employee alarm system that has a distinctive signal to warn employees of fire or other emergencies, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide adequate warning to them. The employee alarm system must comply with § 1910.165.

[39 FR 23502, June 27, 1974, as amended at 45 FR 60703, Sept. 12, 1980; 67 FR 67963, Nov. 7, 2002]