An "exit route" is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit within a workplace to a place of safety (including refuge areas). An exit route consists of three parts:
1. The exit access is that portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
2. The exit is that portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
3. The exit discharge refers to where the exit door actually leads.
In this fire safety training tip we will emphasize the importance of making sure any person can escape the building by following a clearly marked and unobstructed route from any point in the building.
Number of Exit Routes
Building and fire codes require a certain number of exit routes and certain types of exit routes depending on a number of factors, including the number of personnel, the size of the building, the arrangement of the building, and the type of occupancy. Discuss the number of exit routes and their locations in your workplace.
Location of Exit Routes
Remember, exit routes are not just the doors or stairwells that lead outside. Exit routes start at any point in the building.
Any non-exit doorway or passage that might be mistaken for an exit must be marked with a clearly visible and distinctive sign that reads "NOT AN EXIT" or a sign that indicates the door’s actual use. Discuss non-exit doors and passageways in your work area that might be mistaken for exit routes.
All doors along the exit route must open readily. The doors must open from the inside so that evacuating employees only need to push them open. Also, doors must open without the use of keys, tools, or any other special knowledge. Discuss exit routes that require employees to go through doors.
Move Away from the Building
The exit route must eventually lead outside to an open space, street, or walkway that allows employees to easily move away from the building. Employees should proceed directly to the evacuation meeting point, where a count will be made to ensure that all personnel are accounted for. Discuss the evacuation meeting point for your employees.
In addition to fire or smoke, there are many reasons why your workers may need to evacuate the workplace. Other reasons include:
• Natural disasters
• Extended power outages
• Bomb threats
• Biological agents
• Workplace violence