Texas Exit Route & Evacuation Accidents
In the event of an emergency, do you know where the exits are in your building? Is there space and paths for you to follow so that you could exit from your office space in a short amount of time? Unfortunately, too many workplaces break fire code or fail to provide employees with a detailed drill about how to exit the building should a natural disaster, a fire, or another incident occur. Every single building is required to have an exit route, where employees can quickly leave the building in case of a fire, an earthquake, a collapse, a toxic fume, or any other danger. The OSHA even has requirements for these exit routes in order to keep workers extra safe.
Exit Route Requirements
Exit routes are supposed to be a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel that can be reached from any location within the office space. An exit route must have exit access, an exit that is separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel, and an exit discharge. The exit discharge is the part of the route that least directly outside to a street, walkway, refuge area, or open space with access to the outside.
The OSHA and other government agencies have created requirements for exit routes that must be followed. All exit routes must be permanent parts of the workplace, and exit discharges must lead directly outside to a street a walkway, or another are with access to the outdoors. The exit discharge area must be large enough to accommodate the building occupants using the exit route. For example, if the exit route leads to a narrow alleyway, this may be a violation of the OSHA standards because all evacuated peoples could not fit in that small alleyway.
OSHA also requires multilevel building have stairs that lead to an exit that is clearly marked so those using the stairwell will not miss it. All exit route doors must remain unlocked from the inside so workers can quickly get to them. They must be free of any alarms or devices that would restrict use of the door if overhead alarms fail.
All side hinged doors in buildings must connect rooms to exit routes. These doors must swing outwards in the direction of exit travel so they don't block people that are running out. This requirement only requires to rooms that hold over 50 people in them. All exit routs must support the maximum occupant load for each floor served and the exit route may not decrease in the direction of exit route travel in a way that would cause the route to become jammed. In addition, all exit route ceilings must be 7 feet, 6 inches high. An exit access must be 28 inches wide at all points. Outdoor exit routes must have guard rails if a fall hazard and cannot have a dead end longer than 20 feet.
There are also rules about exits of buildings. Some of these requirements include:
- No highly flammable decorations or furniture near the exit
- Signs posted to direct employees to the emergency exit
- Exits cannot be obstructed by items, locks, or barriers
- Exits cannot direct employees to a high hazard area
- Exits should have lighting
- Non-exit doors along the pathway should be marked with signs to prevent confusion
- Exits must exist even during construction
- Buildings should have emergency alarm systems
If you would like more information on emergency exit requirements or believe that your building did not follow the requirements and this resulted in your injury, then talk to a Houston personal injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin LLP.