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Safety Tip of the Week - View Archives
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December 19, 2022

Emergency Exit Routes
An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit to a place of safety from any point within a workplace.

A workplace must have a minimum of two exit routes in case one is blocked, and they must be as far apart as practicality allows. However, depending on the number of employees, the size of the building, and the arrangement of the workplace, more than two exits may be required.

Exit routes must be permanent fixtures in the building and must lead to outdoor areas large enough to house all of the building’s occupants safely. Doors on the exit route should be hinged on the side, unlocked on the inside, and free of alarms.

Exit signs are essential in workplaces. They help occupants find their way to the nearest exit in the event of an emergency, and they provide a light source in the event of a power outage. Exit signs help identify the difference between non-exit doors and exit doors, which can be confusing in a panic or when there is fire and smoke.

An exit route consists of three parts:

Exit access - Portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.

- Portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.

Exit discharge
- Part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.

Tips on Emergency Exit Routes

  • Ensure all personnel are trained on the emergency exit plan.

  • All contractors or guests should be made aware of the emergency exit routes and muster points.

  • Provide periodic safety toolbox topics that include discussion of emergency exit routes.

  • All exit routes must remain free of obstructions.

  • Fire exit doors must never be blocked, even temporarily.

  • Ensure all exits discharge directly to the street, or to a yard, court, or other open space that gives safe access to a public way.

  • Prevent vehicles from blocking exit doors by using railings, bollards, signs, and/or paint markings.

Never route air hoses, extension cords, etc. across emergency exit routes.

  • Exit doors always should be unlocked from the inside if personnel are in the building.

  • Exit routes should have sufficient lighting, including emergency lighting.

  • Keep exit routes free of materials that are highly flammable or explosive. This includes materials such as curtains and other decorations.

  • Clearly label all doors that can be mistaken for an exit with a sign reading “Not an Exit” or indicating the room’s use.

  • Post signs along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge if that direction is not immediately apparent. Also, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must be clearly visible at all times.

  • Arrange exit routes so employees will not have to travel past high-hazard areas unless absolutely necessary.

  • A regular and frequent inspection program is a way to ensure that all exit routes remain free and clear of obstructions and all emergency equipment remains in good working order.

  • Report any broken doors, doorknobs, or jambs to management immediately. Replace or repair any malfunctioning equipment.
    Source:  Glenn Dickey, All-Safe Program Manager at AgriSphere Services, LLC, Decatur, IL:
    Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg
    and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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