Exit Sign Requirements

August 19th, 2015 | ,

I was recently asked about the requirements for Exit Signs within a facility. I learned that Fed/OSHA, Cal/OSHA, and the Building Code each require the installation of Exit Signs.

Cal/OSHA Title 8 §3216(b) requires Exit Signs (or directional signs) to be installed “at every exit door, at the intersection of corridors, at exit stairways or ramps and at such other locations and intervals as are necessary to provide the occupants with knowledge of the various means of egress available.”

Exit sign

Areas not requiring exit signs includes:

  • Any room or building having an occupant load of 50 or less [Title 8 §3216(b)(1)]
  • Occupancies containing sleeping units where the occupants are primarily transient in nature, including: boarding houses with more than 10 occupants, congregate living facilities with more than 10 occupants, hotels, and motels [Title 8 §3216(b)(2), 2015 IBC §310.3]
  • when approved, the main exterior exit doors obviously and clearly identifiable as exits [Title 8 §3216(b)(3)]

Other Cal/OSHA requirements for exit signs includes:

  • Must be have a luminance of 50 lux (approximately 5 foot-candles) [Title 8 §3216(a)]
  • The words used on the signs must be 6″ in height with a stroke of not less than 3/4″ [Title 8 §3216(a)]
  • There must be a strong contrast between the letters in the sign and the sign background [Title 8 §3216(a)]
  • Each illuminated sign must have two electric lamps, either one of which shall be sufficient to provide the required luminance on the face of the sign [Title 8 §3216(c)]

Fed/OSHA Title 29 CFR §1910.37 addresses Exit Signs in their regulation for Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes. Note the following:

  • Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit.” [Title 29 CFR §1910.37(b)(2)]
  • Each exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of the exit route door [Title 29 CFR §1910.37(b)(3)]
  • 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 [Title 29 CFR §1910.37(b)(4)]
  • Each doorway or passage along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit must be marked “Not an Exit” or similar designation, or be identified by a sign indicating its actual use (e.g., closet) [Title 29 CFR §1910.37(b)(5)]
  • 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 footlamberts (0.21 cd/m2) are permitted [Title 29 CFR §1910.37(b)(6)]
  • 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. [Title 29 CFR §1910.37(b)(7)]

Finally, the 2015 International Building Code also specifies requirements for Exit Signs in 2015 IBC §1013. I will only make mention of relevant requirements that are not included in the OSHA regulations above:

  • Intervening means of egress doors within exits shall be marked by exit signs [2015 IBC §1013.1]
  • Exit sign placement shall be such that no point in an exit access corridor or exit passageway is more than 100 feet (30 480 mm) or the listed viewing distance for the sign, whichever is less, from the nearest visible exit sign  [2015 IBC §1013.1]
  • Exit signs shall be illuminated at all times. To ensure continued illumination for a duration of not less than 90 minutes in case of primary power loss, the sign illumination means shall be connected to an emergency power system provided from storage batteries, unit equipment or an on-site generator [2015 IBC §1013.6.3]

One response to “Exit Sign Requirements”

  1. Domino Brennan says:

    Thank you for the compliance information.

    Can you provide a vendor with style and/or model number of an inexpensive CAL OSHA approved Exit sign? I need 75 for our warehouse.
    Thank you.
    Domino Brennan

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