Means of Egress/Escape


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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This checklist covers regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under 29 CFR 1910.36 and 1910.37. These regulations apply only to private employers and their employees, unless adopted by a State agency and applied to other groups such as public employees.

  1. General

  2. Are exits provided to permit the prompt escape of occupants in case of fire or other emergency? [29 CFR 1910.36 (b)(1)]
  3. Is every exit, way of approach, and way to travel from the exit to the street continuously maintained free of all obstructions or impediments? [29 CFR 1910.36(d)(1) and 1910.37(l)(1)]Note: The following items, if they block fire exits, are examples of violations: boxes of light tubes, empty boxes, a cart, metal fence posts, lawnmowers, steel racks, wood, tools, scales, ballracks, soccer balls, stored equipment, machines on the floor, and tripping hazards such as electric cords, tools, lumber, and hoses.
  4. Are exits maintained so as to provide free and unobstructed egress or escape when the room is occupied? [29 CFR 1910.36(b)(4)]Note: No locks, chains, or fastenings to prevent free escape from the inside are permitted.
  5. Does every building or area have two exits if one exit could be blocked because of a fire, smoke, or other emergency? [29 CFR 1910.36(b)(8)]
  6. Do exits discharge directly onto a street, yard, court, or other open space that gives safe access to a public way? [29 CFR 1910.37(h)(1)]
  7. Do exit doors swing in the direction of travel when an area is occupied by more than 50 people or where hazardous operations are conducted? [29 CFR 1910.37(f)(2)]
  8. Are all exit doors and paths of exit 28 inches or more in width? [29 CFR 1910.37(f)(6)]Note: Examples of violations include a stack of wood restricting the exit to 14 inches, a space of only 17 inches between the desk and the wall, and a space of only 14 inches between desks.
  9. Are means of egress or exit designed and maintained to provide adequate head room, with the ceiling height at least 7-1/2 feet and any projection from the ceiling more than 6 feet 8 inches from the floor? [29 CFR 1910.37(i)]
  10. Is every exit clearly visible and the route to it conspicuously indicated so everyone readily knows the direction of escape from any point? [29 CFR 1910.36(b)(5) and 29 CFR 1910.37(f)(4) and (l)(1)]Note: Draperies or similar decorative hangings must not obstruct the view of, nor access through, any element of a means of egress or escape. Mirrors shall not be placed in or adjacent to a means of egress in any manner that may confuse the direction of egress. Exit doors must not be decorated in any way that would obscure or confuse the purpose of the door.
  11. In areas equipped for artificial illumination, do all exit paths have adequate and reliable illumination? [29 CFR 1910.36(b)(6)]
  12. Are exits prohibited through bathrooms or other rooms subject to locking?
  13. Is storage of flammable or combustible materials in exit corridors prohibited? [recommended]
  14. Is the use of highly flammable furnishings or decorations prohibited? [29 CFR 1910.37(l)(2)]

    Exit Marking

  15. Is access to exits marked by readily visible signs and arrows when the way to reach it is not immediately visible? [29 CFR 1910.37(q)(1) and (5)]
  16. Are doors, passageways or stairways that are neither exits nor a way to an exit, and which can be mistaken for an exit, marked with a sign reading “Not An Exit” or similar designation? [29 CFR 1910.36(b)(5) and 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(2)]Note: Other appropriate markings would be “To Basement,” “To Storeroom,” “To Linen Closet,” etc.
  17. Are exit signs clearly visible, distinctive in color, and easily distinguished from decorations, interior finish, and other signs? [29 CFR 1910.37(q) (3) and (4)]Note: The following are prohibited: decorations, furnishings, or equipment that impair the visibility of exit signs; and any brightly illuminated sign, display, or object in or near the line of vision of the egress sign that detracts attention from the egress sign so that it is not noticed.
  18. Is every exit sign illuminated by a reliable light source? [29 CFR 1910.37(q)(6)]
  19. In areas where reduction of normal illumination is permitted, are exit signs internally illuminated? [29 CFR 1910.37(q)(7)]
  20. Does every exit sign have the word “Exit” in plainly legible letters not less than 6 inches high, with the principal strokes of letters not less than three-fourths-inch wide? [29 CFR 1910.37(q)(8)]

Page last reviewed: June 6, 2014