Escape Route

Last updated: December 12, 2019

What Does Escape Route Mean?

An escape route is a predefined path of travel that has been designed to provide employees with a safe and predictable means of evacuating their workplace in the event of an emergency. Escape routes may guide employees to a building’s final exit, or—if an exit is not possible—to a refuge shelter.

In most jurisdictions, an adequate escape route consists of three primary features: First, it provides a safe path of travel for employees; second, the route itself is clearly marked so that employees will not get lost, even in low-light conditions; third, the route has been explained to employees in advance of an actual emergency, so that they have a basic familiarity with the path they should take if an emergency occurs.

Safeopedia Explains Escape Route

The use of escape routes is a fundamental element of any occupational safety program that pertains to work in buildings or other large facilities. The use of escape routes is required of employers by every occupational health and safety authorities in the developed world and is a standard component of both local and international building codes. For example, the use of escape routes is an important component of the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), as well as an OSHA requirement.

In order for an escape route to meet the requirements of the local occupational safety authority (i.e., the authority having jurisdiction, or AHJ), the route must meet a number of minimum specifications. These requirements differ somewhat between AHJs; however, typical requirements for a standards-compliant escape route include good housekeeping (the route must be unobstructed and free of hazards), clear signage (such as the use of exit or evacuation signs that are visible in the dark); and an exit point that is safe for the evacuated employees to gather.

Many AHJs require employers to maintain at least two escape routes; this requirement ensures that employees still have a safe means of escape if one of the routes is blocked by fire. Additionally, if an escape route is longer than a certain minimum length (e.g., 18m in most UK buildings), applicable regulations may require it to be protected by fire doors and other fire protection equipment. Such routes are called "protected escape routes".


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