Emergency lights and emergency exit lighting are essential for maintaining a safe workplace. They help keep order, prevent panic, enable safe movement, and contribute to timely evacuation.

Ongoing Responsibility

Ensuring the operational readiness of emergency lighting is an ongoing responsibility for building managers, as well as an OSHA and LIFE SAFETY Code requirement.

Emergency Lighting and Exit Sign Requirements

Under 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.34(c) OSHA defines “exit route” as, “a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety (including refuge areas).” An exit route includes all vertical and horizontal areas along the route and consists of the following three parts:

  • Exit access−means that portion of an exit route that leads to an exit. An example of an exit access is a corridor on the fifth floor of an office building that leads to a two-hour fire-resistance-rated enclosed stairway (the Exit);
  • Exit−means that portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge. An example of an exit is a two-hour fire-resistance-rated enclosed stairway that leads from the fifth floor of an office building to the outside of the building; and
  • Exit Discharge−means the part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside. An example of an exit discharge is a door at the bottom of a two-hour fire-resistance-rated enclosed stairway that discharges to a place of safety outside the building.

Sometimes referred to as egress lighting—emergency lighting is designed to illuminate and identify hallways, stairwells and exits to facilitate a safe and orderly evacuation from a facility. Emergency lighting is generally required in all commercial, industrial, educational, religious, institutional, public housing, medical and many other facilities whether for-profit or non-profit. And while OSHA does not have any regulations specific to emergency lighting, the NFPA’s Life Safety Code addresses the topic in detail. The local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is the best resource to answer emergency lighting compliance questions related to your specific occupancy.