Making Sense of “Not an Exit” signs


A workplace fire is the last thing most people want to hear, but it can be the most important thing to be prepared for. In the event of an emergency, everyone needs to have two predetermined exit routes. Each evacuation route must also be lit with proper exit signs. It becomes a little more gray when labeling doors that do not lead to an exit though. Do all doors need to be labeled? Do these signs need to be lit as well? How do I know where to place these signs?

Proper Signage
Everyone may be aware of the requirement that required exit signs along an evacuation route, but what about all those other doors? OSHA states that all doors or passages along an exit route that could be mistaken for an exit should be marked as “Not an Exit” or with a sign identifying its use, such as “Closet” or “Boiler Room”.

While we may assume that most employees know the correct routes to an emergency exit, we suggest you view it from the point of view of a visitor. If someone that is not familiar with your facility could potentially get confused, you may want to add a “Not an Exit” sign. When posting these signs, OSHA does not give specific standards like it does for an emergency exit sign. This allows employers to create their own by printing them off or simply painting it on a door. If desired, lit “Not an Exit” signs are available for purchase, but are not necessary.

Here are a few more standards to keep in mind when reviewing your exit routes.

Keep exit routes free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings or material
Ensure that exit routes are unobstructed such as materials, equipment, locked doors or dead-ends
Provide lighting for exit routes adequate for employees with normal vision

Click here for additional information on Emergency Exit Routes.

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