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OSHA Revises Exit Routes Standard

Requirements for exiting buildings quickly during an emergency have been rewritten in a user-friendly format that is easier to understand. The revised Exit Routes, Emergency Action Plans, and Fire Prevention Plans Standard becomes effective on December 7, 2002.

"Having a clear plan and procedure for exiting a building as safely as possible, if necessary, is one of the most basic and important safety precautions," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "OSHA's standard was over 30 years old and in need of updating. The changes to the language in this rule will make if more clear and consistent, and aid workers and employers alike in understanding the requirements of the standard."

The requirements for exit routes have been rewritten in simple, straight-forward, easy to understand terms. For example, Means of Egress will now be referred to as Exit Routes. The text has been reorganized and inconsistencies and duplicative requirements have been removed. The revised rule has fewer subparagraphs and a smaller number of cross-references to other OSHA standards than the previous version.

Employers now have the option of adopting the National Fire Protection Associations' Life Safety Code, instead of the OSHA standard for exit routes. OSHA evaluated the NFPA standard and concluded that it provides comparable safety.

The revised standard, which offers more compliance options for employers, does not change the regulatory obligations of the employer or the safety and health protections provided to the employees of the original standard.

The Exit Routes, Emergency Action Plans, and Fire Prevention Plans standard is scheduled for publication in the November 7, 2002 Federal Register.