What Does Means of Escape Mean?
A means of escape is a pathway designated for people to escape a location or building in the event of an emergency.
Means of escape encompass a number of things, including:
- Exit doors
- Emergency windows
- Fire escapes
Safety regulations require buildings to have a sufficient number of means of escape, and for those to remain clear and unobstructed. They may also need to be constructed with flame-resistant materials to ensure that they remain safe to use during a fire.
A means of escape is also sometimes referred to as an exit route or an escape route.
Safeopedia Explains Means of Escape
Providing an adequate means of escape means ensuring that the time available for an escape is greater than the time actually needed to complete the escape. They must provide ample time for everyone in the building to safely evacuate and reach a safe location.
The Three Parts of an Exit Route
An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. It consists of three parts:
- The exit access leading toward an exit
- The exit, which is distinct from the other parts of the building and restricted for emergency purposes so that it can act as a protected means of reaching the exit discharge
- The exit discharge, which lies between the end of the exit and a public area, such as a street or designated muster point
Number of Exit Routes Required in the Workplace
Workplaces must have exit routes to accommodate a controlled discharge or all personnel and occupants. The number of routes will depend on the number of employees, the dimensions of the building, and the layout of the facility.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires a minimum of two exit routes. In some cases, additional emergency routes may be needed to expedite a fluid, safe discharge.
Every exit route must be marked by placards and signage guiding traffic to a marked exit.
Exit signage must clearly display where the means of escape is located. To ensure visibility at a distance, exit signs should have minimum dimensions of 300mm by 300mm.
OSHA Requirements for Means of Escape
According to OSHA Standard Number 1910.36 – Design and construction for exit routes, an exit route must meet the following design and construction requirements:
- The exit route must be a permanent part of the workplace
- An exit must be separated by fire-resistant materials
- Openings into an exit must be limited to those necessary for access to the exit or to the exit discharge
- Exit routes must support the maximum permitted occupant load for each floor served
- The ceiling of an exit route must be at least 7.5 feet high
- The exit access must be at least 28 inches wide at all points