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In your building EMERGENCY EGRESS drills and designs are you considering all the factors?

With September 2016 being emergency preparedness month there are few things you need to be thinking about and asking your supervisors, like are we ISO designed, what about that door does it meet the standards etc! I can see a lot of you saying SO what Why should I care Who’s job is it to inspect is it mine!

And yes emergencies do happen and yes staff has to get out safely and to proper points of safety like muster points or gathering areas.  But in your safety plan have you considered all the safety items you need to check and controls?  SO do you even know what a lamberts is or how it is measured? Lamberts have only been around in safety since the 1700 hundreds! And how did the ISO get into this master plan and are you up to those standard?

Each of us needs to have a strategy for getting out of a building quickly in the event of a fire or other emergency—whether we are at home, at work or in a public area such as a mall, theatre or hotel.

Some people will need assistance to evacuate a building safely. For example, they may have difficulty using stairs or seeing exit signs.

muster point is a designated place or an area where all employees, passengers, or a large crowd assemble in case of an emergency in an installation, building, public place or a watercraft. It is also known as an emergency assembly point (EAP), or, simply, assembly point.

ISO 23601:2009, Safety identification – Escape and evacuation plan signs, establishes design principles for displayed escape plans that provide information vital to fire safety, escape, evacuation and rescue of a facility’s occupants.

The standard has been developed because there is a need to harmonize on an international scale a system of communicating escape routes in facilities that relies as little as possible on the use of words to get the message through. With an increasingly mobile world population and ever-greater opportunities for international trade, graphical symbols are an essential tool for concisely conveying messages to users independently of language. Where safety signs are concerned, ease and speed of recognition are vital to help save people from injury and death.

ISO 23601 is based on the safety signs, colour codes and design requirements of ISO 7010:2003, Graphical symbols – Safety colours and safety signs – Safety signs. It establishes a common method of illustrating the position of the viewer in relation to designated escape routes leading to emergency exits and the location of fire safety and emergency equipment close to escape routes. It covers the following:

·        Design requirements

·        Size of plan elements

·        Content and representation

·        Materials

·        Installation and location

·        Inspection and revision.

A fire prevention plan must be in writing, be kept in the workplace, and be made available to employees for review. However, an employer with 10 or fewer employees may communicate the plan orally to employees.

At a minimum, your fire prevention plan must include:

§ A list of all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources and their control, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard.

§ Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials.

§ Procedures for regular maintenance of safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials.

§ The name or job title of employees responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires.

§ The name or job title of employees responsible for the control of fuel source hazards. An employer must inform employees upon initial assignment to a job of the fire hazards to which they are exposed. An employer must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.


The design and construction of exit routes. It includes a requirement that exit routes be permanent, addresses fire resistance-ratings of construction materials used in exit stairways (exits), describes openings into exits, defines the minimum number of exit routes in workplaces, addresses exit discharges, and discusses locked exit route doors, and exit route doors. It also addresses the capacity, height and width of exit routes, and finally, it sets forth requirements for exit routes that are outside a building.

Exit routes must meet the following design and construction requirements :

What is 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. An exit route consists of three parts: ■ Exit access – portion of an exit route that leads to an exit. ■ Exit – portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge. ■ Exit discharge – 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. How many exit routes must a workplace have? Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely. Exit routes must be located as far away as practical from each other in case one is blocked by fire or smoke. Exception: If the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace allows all employees to evacuate safely during an emergency, one exit route is permitted. What are some other design and construction requirements for exit routes? ■ Exit routes must be permanent parts of the workplace. ■ Exit discharges must lead directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside. These exit discharge areas must be large enough to accommodate the building occupants likely to use the exit route. ■ Exit stairs that continue beyond the level on which the exit discharge is located must be interrupted at that level by doors, partitions, or other effective means that clearly indicate the direction of travel leading to the exit discharge. ■ Exit route doors must be unlocked from the inside. They must be free of devices or alarms that could restrict use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails. ■ Side-hinged exit doors must be used to connect rooms to exit routes. These doors must swing out in the direction of exit travel if the room is to be occupied by more than 50 people or if the room is a high-hazard area. ■ Exit routes must support the maximum permitted occupant load for each floor served, and the capacity of an exit route may not decrease in the direction of exit route travel to the exit discharge. ■ Ceilings of exit routes must be at least 7 feet, 6 inches high

§ Basic requirements based upon NFPA and Building Codes

§ Number of exits

§ Exit discharge

§ Locking arrangements

§ Door swing

§ Exit route capacity

§ Height and width requirements

Outdoor exit routes ■ Outdoor exit routes are permitted but must meet the minimum height and width requirement for indoor exit routes and must – have guardrails to protect unenclosed sides if a fall hazard exists; – be covered if snow or ice is likely to accumulate, unless the employer can demonstrate accumulations will be removed before a slipping hazard exists; – be reasonably straight and have smooth, solid, substantially level walkways; and – not have a dead-end longer than 20 feet. What are the requirements for exits? ■ Exits must be separated by fire resistant materials—that is, one-hour fire-resistance rating if the exit connects three or fewer stories and two-hour fire-resistance rating if the exit connects more than three floors. ■ Exits are permitted to have only those openings necessary to allow access to the exit from occupied areas of the workplace or to the exit discharge. Openings must be protected by a self-closing, approved fire door that remains closed or automatically closes in an emergency.

Exit routes must be kept free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings or other decorations. The Canadian Standards Association recommends that doors have a minimum “clear width” of 810 millimetres (32 inches); however, requirements vary across jurisdictions. Building occupants should identify those exits that are wide enough for them to use during an evacuation.

Most emergency exit doors have a panic bar that occupants simply push on to release the latch and open the door, although some require the user to move a latch to one side.

Fire doors in public buildings are sometimes held open magnetically. Generally, the magnetic release is activated by the fire alarm. When reviewing the evacuation route in a building, it is a good idea to check the doors along the route.

In general, buildings should have at least two accessible exits; the larger the building, the greater the number of accessible exits required (check the applicable requirements for your jurisdiction). Exit routes must be clearly marked so that building occupants are aware of their locations. Doors along the exit route cannot be locked or secured in a way that obstructs anyone attempting to exit. In high-security buildings, security systems may be integrated with the emergency alarm system so that doors along the exit route unlock automatically when the fire alarm is activated or when a “system failure” occurs.

§ Exit routes must be arranged so that employees will not have to travel toward a high hazard area, unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high hazard area by suitable partitions or other physical barriers.

§ Exit routes must be free and unobstructed. No materials or equipment may be placed, either permanently or temporarily, within the exit route. The exit access must not go through a room that can be locked, such as a bathroom, to reach an exit or exit discharge, nor may it lead into a dead-end corridor. Stairs or a ramp must be provided where the exit route is not substantially level.

§ Safeguards designed to protect employees during an emergency (such as sprinkler systems, alarm systems, fire doors, exit lighting) must be in proper working order at all times.

§ Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route.

§ Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit”.

§ Each exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of the exit route door.

§ If the direction of travel to the exit or exit discharge is not immediately apparent, signs must be posted along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge. Additionally, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must clearly be visible at all times.

§ Each doorway or passage along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit (such as a closet) must be marked “Not an Exit” or similar designation, or be identified by a sign indicating its actual use.

§ Each exit sign must be illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles (54 lux) by a reliable light source and be distinctive in color. Self-luminous or electroluminescent signs that have a minimum luminance surface value of at least .06 foot lamberts (0.21 cd/m2) are permitted.  The SI unit is the candela per square metre (cd/m²).

§ Each exit sign must have the word “Exit” in plainly legible letters not less than six inches (15.2 cm) high, with the principal strokes of the letters in the word “Exit” not less than three-fourths of an inch (1.9 cm) wide. [

Fire retardant paints or solutions must be renewed as often as necessary to maintain their fire retardant properties.

During new construction, employees must not occupy a workplace until the exit routes required by this subpart are completed and ready for employee use for the portion of the workplace they occupy.

During repairs or alterations, employees must not occupy a workplace unless the exit routes required by this subpart are available and existing fire protections are maintained, or until alternate fire protection is furnished that provides an equivalent level of safety.

Employees must not be exposed to hazards of flammable or explosive substances or equipment used during construction, repairs, or alterations, that are beyond the normal permissible conditions in the workplace, or that would impede exiting the workplace.

What are the maintenance, safeguarding, and operational features for exit routes? O H & S standards require employers to do the following: ■ Keep exit routes free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings and other decorations. ■ Arrange exit routes so employees will not have to travel toward a high-hazard area unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high-hazard area. ■ Ensure that exit routes are unobstructed such as by materials, equipment, locked doors, or dead-end corridors. ■ Ensure that safeguards designed to protect employees during an emergency remain in good working order. ■ Provide lighting for exit routes adequate for employees with normal vision. ■ Keep exit route doors free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of exit route doors. ■ Post signs along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge if that direction is not immediately apparent. Also, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must be clearly visible at all times. ■ Mark doors or passages along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit “Not an Exit” or with a sign identifying its use (such as “Closet”). ■ Install “EXIT” signs in plainly legible letters. ■ Renew fire-retardant paints or solutions often enough to maintain their fire-retardant properties. ■ Maintain exit routes during construction, repairs, or alterations. ■ Provide an emergency alarm system to alert employees, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide adequate warning to them.

Buildings are usually equipped with either a one-stage or two-stage alarm system. When a one-stage alarm is activated, building occupants are required to evacuate the building immediately. In a two-stage alarm system, there is an initial alarm to notify building occupants that the alarm has been activated and they should stand by for instructions. If the second alarm is activated, occupants are required to evacuate the building.

Accessible notification systems include audible alarms, visual alarms (e.g., strobe lights) or a combination of visual and audible alarms. Visual alarms should be installed in common areas, gathering places, washrooms, workstations and anywhere a person might be alone. Fortunately, many new building codes require these visual alarms.

In a residential setting, it should be noted that people who are hard of hearing might be able to hear an alarm during the day with the benefit of a hearing aid. However, at night they remove the aid and are no longer alerted by an audible alarm. In such cases, they should plan to have an alternate alert system, such as a visual alarm like strobe lights or a vibrating-pad smoke detector (usually placed under a pillow).

Building codes require that fire-alarm activation levers (pulls) be within reach of anyone seated or standing. In the event of an emergency, building occupants should follow posted information on how to trigger an alarm using a fire pull and notify the 9-1-1 call centre or fire department.

Employers must install and maintain an operable employee alarm system that has a distinctive signal to warn employees of fire or other emergencies, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide adequate warning to them. The employee alarm system must comply with the current state or provincial codes


Emergency communication

One of the responsibilities of building managers is to ensure efficient communication in the event of an emergency. Clear and efficient communication with everyone, including regular occupants and visitors, will enhance the safety of all building users during an emergency.

Hotels and other places of temporary accommodation pose an additional challenge that can be managed with an enhanced communications plan. Individuals, guests and visitors should be invited to register if they have any disabilities or limitations so their accommodation can be planned accordingly.

People who are blind or have reduced vision need to be given emergency information in a format they can use. For example, some building occupants may need information about emergency procedures in large print or in an electronic format.

Emergency procedures should be posted in a clear, easy-to-read format, such as 14-point type, to ensure a greater number of people are able to read it. Emergency procedures should be posted on the wall at a maximum height of 1200 millimetres (47 inches) and should be located in a prominent place.

If emergency procedures include communicating with building personnel, care must be taken to ensure that an emergency TTY (telephone typewriter) device is available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Use of a “relay service for the deaf,” where operators provide two-way translation between spoken words and typed text, is not appropriate in an emergency situation, which requires direct communication. As a secondary communication strategy during a power failure or other event, a “buddy” could be assigned to provide assistance.

Emergency protocols and procedures have three primary components:

Fire hazard control.

The use of building systems such as fire pulls (alarms), fire doors that close automatically and horizontal fire separations (fire doors that divide a floor into separate areas).

Fire protection system.

Areas of refuge and communication systems that ensure people can be notified of an emergency and kept safe until they can evacuate safely.

Emergency evacuation.

Comprehensive procedures to ensure the safe evacuation of all occupants, including at-risk individuals who need assistance to evacuate, each of whom also has an individual evacuation plan.


Accessible signs are those that include both tactile and Braille characters.

Signs should indicate the accessible exit route on all floors and in all rooms and staircases.

Fire-emergency procedures must be posted for building occupants to see. They should be provided in large print and mounted at a height that is visible to people who are seated, standing or moving. If building occupants need the information in another format, such as an electronic file or in Braille, the building manager should make appropriate arrangements to ensure that everyone is well informed about emergency procedures.

Exit routes

A clear evacuation route is very important in the event of a fire or other emergency. The accessible exit route should be clearly indicated and maintained so it is free of obstacles such as storage items or garbage containers.


Most elevators are programmed to return to the ground floor when a fire alarm is sounded. However, elevators designed for use by firefighters are key-operated and can be controlled by either building emergency personnel or the fire service. In some jurisdictions, such elevators are used to safely bring occupants down to ground level.

According to the proceedings of the 2003 International Conference on Tall Buildings, “the desire for increased egress (exit) capacity of tall buildings to facilitate simultaneous evacuation has rekindled interest in elevators as a secondary means of egress for all occupants.

Recently, Committee TC178 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) identified at least 12 countries that require firefighter-controlled elevators in tall buildings (i.e., buildings taller than 30 metres) to, “Provide for fire department access and to support operations as well as to evacuate people with disabilities.”


It is important to consider the width of stairs that are to be used as part of an accessible exit route, and whether or not the stairs will accommodate someone being carried in a wheelchair or evacuation device. These devices vary in size and require an adequate width and manoeuvring space.

The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. The elements of the plan must include, but are not limited to:

§ Means of reporting fires and other emergencies

§ Evacuation egress procedures and emergency escape route assignments

§ Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate

§ Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed

§ Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them

§ Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan

Terry Penney

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