impairment is trying to escape the building – could they
safely get away from the building if they used that door?
“We had one client who had a 4- by 4-foot cement pad
you would land on when you exited the doorway, but
beyond it was a grass area with a hill,” Lynch explains.
“The occupancy was a senior living facility and some of
the tenants used wheelchairs. They were supposed to get
Areas where hazardous chemicals are stored or poten-
tially dangerous equipment is used should have warning
signs, as should temporary hazards such as construction
areas or stairwells that are temporarily out of service.
Keep track of them – as well as the locations of all other
signage – on a map or in a computerized work order sys-
tem so it’s easy to go back and inspect them regularly in
the future. This is especially important for lit exit signs
and other emergency signage where periodic inspections
“Emergency lighting and signage should be incorporated in your routine inspections of the entire facility,”
says Lynch. “Have a way to verify that you have actually
checked all of them – there are so many clients who just
do it ad hoc or assume they checked something. A lot of
people don’t do the required functional testing, so make
sure that’s part of your preventive maintenance plan –
it’s crucial.” B
Janelle Penny firstname.lastname@example.org is Senior
Editor of BUILDINGS.
Is Your Facility Prepared?
Don’t wait until a threat is looming to review your signage. The sooner you can assess whether your current
setup is viable, the better.
Conduct a thorough walkthrough of your facility to
check for risk. Try to look at your building through the
eyes of an occupant or guest.
“Look at where you have people working, but also
consider places that aren’t typically work areas or where
something temporary is happening,” says Lynch. “One
thing we run into often is a lack of signage on doorways or
closed doors where someone wouldn’t know whether the
door leads to an actual exit or another room. When we
conduct audits, one of the things we look at is whether it’s
apparent where someone would go to find a stairwell or
exit the building.”
Keep an eye out for any rooms that aren’t marked,
Lynch adds. They may not contain anything dangerous,
but you don’t want an occupant mistaking a storage room
for an exit door or a place to shelter when seconds count.
“FMs who take a critical eye and think like an occupant
or visitor could probably identify many of these problems
themselves,” says Lynch. “They know their buildings better than anyone coming in. Outside observers can provide
a fresh set of eyes – we may look at things more critically
than someone who sees the building every day.”
When you inspect exit doors and routes, take a minute
to examine egress on the other side as well, Lynch recommends. At each door, imagine someone with a mobility
Signifies that a space
is accessible for people
with mobility impairments.
These symbols of accessibility are regulated by ADA. All should have a non-glare finish and be displayed with either a light symbol on a dark background or a dark symbol on a white background
to make them legible for people with low vision. Make sure these are used where needed so people with
disabilities know how and where to find help evacuating or sheltering.
ADA PICTOGRAM GUIDE
Shows that TTY (a machine that allows people
with hearing or speech
impairments to use
phones by typing text
messages) is available.
Phones with volume
control assist people
who are hard of hearing.
ACCESS FOR HEARING
Indicates an assistive
“FMs who take a critical eye and think like an occupant or visitor can probably identify many signage problems themselves.
They know their buildings better than anyone coming in.” — Donna Lynch, Consultant, Antea Group