Every business wants to know what OSHA standards apply to them because those rules give a good idea of what will keep employees and customers safe. For instance, the rule that every exit route must be clear of obstruction and that the exit door can't have decorations or signs that hide the door is a great guideline for ensuring that your exit is usable in an emergency situation. As you can imagine, OSHA saves a lot of their rules for how exit areas are illuminated, and you will want to keep abreast of their requirements. Fortunately, OSHA has written out some clear guidelines in this. The following questions are some that you, the business owner, need to ask.
Is The Word 'Exit' The Right Size?
It isn't a surprise that a requirement of OSHA's regulation 1910.37(b)(2) is that the exit route must be clearly marked as an exit, but it is a surprise that OSHA weighs in on the size of the actual words. The letters of the word 'Exit' are supposed to be at least 6 inches tall, with the principal strokes being at least three-quarters of an inch wide.
Is The Exit Sign Properly Illuminated?
The exit sign has to be illuminated to a certain minimum amount. OSHA requires that the exit sign must be a distinctive color and be illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles. (Foot-candles is an old-fashioned term meaning the illumination produced by a candle at a distance of one foot. It is considered the equivalent of one lumen incident per square foot. In this case, five foot-candles equals 54 lumens.) Self-luminous or electroluminescent signs (lighted signs that you are probably using) should have a minimum brightness of at least .06 footlamberts. Footlamberts are a measurement of brightness that the US uses and is the equivalent of 3.4262591 candelas per square meter (nits).
The entire route to the exit should have enough light that a person of normal vision can see along it. This may mean installing lights along the route or laying out luminescent tape along the hall.
Are The Right Signs Up?
Any door that is on the exit route and could be mistaken for the exit but isn't needs to be marked clearly as 'not an emergency exit.' These other doors along the exit access area can be marked with their actual use, such as 'closet' or 'office,' or they can be marked simply as 'not an exit.'
The direction of travel to the exit should also be marked if it isn't immediately obvious. This could mean arrows or clearly worded signs. It could also mean lighted signs. You just need to be sure that anyone trying to escape isn't confused about how to get to the exit.
How Regular Inspections Will Keep You On Track
It can be hard to know if you are meeting OSHA's standards. You can forget specifics of the sizes and signage. Then there are times when you add on to your building and you have to make sure your new exit route complies with OSHA standards. Since one of their rules is that employees can't work anywhere that doesn't have exit routes for emergencies, you will want to get a lighting inspector involved quickly.
Your professional lighting inspectors at Lighting Services, Inc. can go further. They can make sure that your illuminated exit sign is properly mounted and isn't flickering. They can make sure that it is brighter than your local requirements too. They might even know of a good upgrade that will improve the safety of your building.
Lighting Services Inc. is only too happy to help you keep compliant with OSHA, so if you want more information, please contact us.