How to keep occupants safe during the worst-case scenario
Do your occupants know where to go during an emergency? An FM who deals with the ins and outs of a building every day may know where every path leads and every exit ends
up, but an employee who works only in
one area of the building or a visitor who
just happens to be in your facility when an
emergency hits likely has no clue.
Protect them from harm and yourself
from liability by making sure your emergency signage is accurate, current, and
Are You Complying with Code?
In an emergency, someone unfamiliar with your building will likely look for the familiar lit exit sign first. NFPA
101, the National Fire Protection Association’s consensus
standard that governs life safety, requires either an internally illuminated sign wired into your emergency power
source or a sign that’s either electroluminescent (doesn’t
use light bulbs, but still requires power to operate) or self-luminous (relies on a contained illumination source that
doesn’t need electricity). Paper signs and arrows won’t
cut it – NFPA 101 requires a minimum level of visibility
The code also requires doors, passages and stairways
that are likely to be mistaken for exits but don’t offer
access to the outside to be identified with “No Exit” signs.
Remember to ensure any additional signage complies
with ADA requirements, which include raised characters
and braille, non-glare finish and high contrast for visual
characters and pictograms, and international symbols to
indicate certain kinds of accommodations. The guidelines
mandate that tactile characters on signs are located at
least 48 inches off the floor and that signs next to doors
are posted alongside the door on the latch side. This
ensures people with vision impairments know where to
look for tactile signage they can read.
In addition to these basic requirements, additional
mandates may apply to your facility depending on its
unique exposures and risks, adds Donna Lynch, a senior
consultant for Antea Group, an environment, health and
safety management consulting firm.
“Not all facilities have an AED, but if they do, typically
those have signage,” explains Lynch. “Not all facilities
have hazardous chemicals, but if they do, there are regu-
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