Emergency Preparedness and Response

Check Your Emergency Exit Routes for OSHA Compliance

The design requirements for exit routes are found in 29 CFR 1910.36. Here’s a quick look at the basic requirements.

  • Is each exit a permanent part of your facility? [1910.36(a)(1)]
  • Do the construction materials used to separate exits have at least a one-hour fire resistance rating if the exit connects three stories or less? [1910.36(a)(2)]
  • Do the construction materials used to separate exits have at least a two-hour fire resistance rating if the exit connects four stories or more? [1910.36(a)(2)]
  • Do your exits have only the openings necessary to permit access from occupied areas of the workplace? [1910.36(a)(3)]
    Is each opening to an exit protected by a self-closing fire door that remains closed? [1910.36(a)(3)]
  • Do you have an adequate number of exit routes? [1910.36(b)(1),(2),(3)]
    Does each exit discharge lead directly outside to a street, walkway, refuge area, or to an open space with access to the outside? [1910.36(c)(1)]
    Is the outside area to which an exit discharge leads large enough to accommodate all building occupants likely to use that exit route? [1910.36(c)(2)]
  • Do exit stairs that continue beyond the floor of the exit have a door or other effective means that clearly indicates the direction of travel leading to the exit discharge? [1910.36(c)(3)]

Is your company ready to deal with an emergency? Most U.S. businesses aren’t. Participate in BLR’s upcoming “Emergency Management Summit,” an interactive extended webinar, and get the tools and information you need to plan for and manage any workplace emergency. Click here for details.


  • Are all your exit doors unlocked, and do they open easily from the inside without a key, tool, or special knowledge? [1910.36(d)(1)]
  • Are side-hinged exit doors used to connect rooms to an exit route? [1910.36(e)(1)]
  • Do doors that connect any room to an exit route swing out in the direction of travel if the room may be occupied by more than 50 people or if the room is a high hazard area? [1910.36(e)(2)]
  • Is the capacity of each exit route adequate for the maximum number of employees on each floor served by the exit route? [1910.36(f)(1)]
  • Is the ceiling of any exit route at least 7 feet 6 inches high with no projection lower than 6 feet 8 inches? [1910.36(g)(1)]
  • Is each exit access at least 28 inches wide at all points? [1910.36(g)(2)]
  • Is the width of each access route sufficient to accommodate the maximum permitted occupant load of each floor served by the exit route? [1910.36(g)(3)]
  • Do outdoor exit routes meet all the requirements for indoor exit routes? [1910.36(h)]
  • Do outdoor exit routes have guardrails to protect unenclosed sides? [1910.36(h)(1)]
  • Are outdoor exit routes covered if accumulation of snow or ice is likely and not removed regularly?  [1910.36(h)(2)]
  • Are outdoor exit routes reasonably straight with smooth, solid, substantially level walkways?  [1910.36(h)(3)]
  • Do outdoor exit routes have no dead ends longer than 20 feet?  [1910.36(h)(4)]?

Join us on March 26 for an interactive extended webinar designed for safety managers and HR professionals that will focus on everything you need to know about how to prepare for and respond to a crisis situation. Learn More.


Exit Routes Just One Emergency Issue

OSHA has directed field inspectors to pay close attention to exit routes in workplaces across the country. So this is a good time to check yours for compliance.

But, of course, that’s just one emergency management issue. You and your company have to be prepared to manage so many more issues related to possible workplace emergencies.

It may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately help is a hand. BLR’s interactive extended webinar, “Emergency Management Summit,” will give you the tools and information you need to manage workplace emergency preparedness effectively. Here’s the full agenda for the webinar (all times Eastern):

11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: Emergency Management: HR Policies and Preparedness (Tex McIver)

  • An overview of the types of catastrophes that safety and HR professionals, as well as company management, may face
  • Evaluating your risks and determining the legal and regulatory players, as well as the role of unions, vendors and contractors, especially on a multiemployer site
  • HR and related policies you should review and revise now, before a workplace crisis arises
  • How to design and communicate effective emergency management and related procedures to the workforce
  • Strategies to manage workplace disruption on a short- or long-term basis
  • Your obligations regarding employees’ pay, benefits, and security during a business disruption
  • Crucial checklists to follow when pandemics or similar large-scale events occur

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Designing an Effective Emergency Plan: People and Resources That Must Be Included to Assure Full Compliance with OSHA’s Exit Door/Route Enforcement Directive (Don Dressler)

  • How to establish a planning team and assign emergency responsibilities
    The best method for identifying potential emergencies and assessing risk
  • Strategies to assess your organization’s emergency response capabilities
  • The components of an effective emergency response plan and who should be included in your emergency response team
    Disaster management best practices, including how to account for employees after a disaster situation
  • Getting essential personnel into work when disaster strikes
    What you should know about OSHA’s recent enforcement exit door/route Directive

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Dealing with the Media Before, During, and After an Event (Don Rountree and Tracy Moon)

  • Elements of an effective “media guide” that sets the tone for addressing the press
  • Specific ways to prepare for a media onslaught before it ever occurs
  • What you should say—and not say—in the immediate aftermath of an incident
  • How to develop an ongoing, positive relationship with local media outlets
  • What to do so you don’t inadvertently waive privilege
  • Legal parameters of public communication, including privilege and criminal exposure concerns, labor scenarios, and coordination with other parties responding to and investigating events

2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: Getting Prepared: Exercises and Drills (Tracy Moon)

  • The exercises you should consider at your organization and who the major players are
  • Do’s and don’ts for smart drills
  • How to improve your employees’ performance for “the real thing” after a practice exercise or drill
  • Special considerations for evacuating disabled employees
  • Being prepared for when the government comes knocking to inspect the situation and who within the organization should be assigned to which roles and why

3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.: How to Keep Your Employees Informed and Calm in the Event of Crisis (Michael Elkon)

  • The emergency response policies you need in your employee handbook
  • How to make sure employees know what they need to do in the event of an emergency
  • Practical tips for tracking employees’ whereabouts and maintaining communications in the event of a crisis
  • What your employees should be instructed to say in response to media inquiries
  • How employee assistance programs and other resources can help employees pick up the pieces after a crisis, and why these are so crucial

About Your Speakers

Don Dressler of Don Dressler Consulting based in Irvine, California, has been working with safety recordkeeping for more than 15 years as the head of an agricultural trade association’s safety and loss control staff and since 2003 as a safety and human resources consultant and attorney.  Dressler focuses on safety, employment, and human resources issues, accident investigations, OSHA compliance, and workers’ compensation. He is the author of “California Office Safety and Your Company’s IIPP: How and Why You Write an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan.”

Attorney Michael P. Elkon is Of Counsel in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He represents management in all areas of employment law in state and federal courts, as well as before state and federal agencies. He specializes in matters concerning employee defection and recruitment, including litigating injunction and damages actions relating to covenants not to compete, non-solicitation and nondisclosure provisions, unfair competition, employee raiding, trade secrets, the duty of loyalty, the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, and state computer protection statutes.  Elkon has litigated dozens of employee defection and recruitment matters in numerous state and federal courts. In addition to litigating, he drafts restrictive covenants for numerous types of agreements and counsels’ clients on protecting their confidential information and customer relationships, as well as recruiting talent. Elkon was selected for inclusion in 2010 and 2011 Georgia Super Lawyers—Rising Stars. He also worked with the Georgia Legislature and appeared before its Judiciary Committee regarding the new Georgia noncompete statute (HB 173) in the 2009 legislative session.

Attorney Claud L. (Tex) McIver is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. In his 30-year career, he has assisted clients nationally and internationally in their compliance efforts involving all federal and state employment laws, and has successfully defended employers in more than 200 union-organizing campaigns. He regularly handles contract negotiations, arbitrations, defense of corporate campaigns and the full range of strikes, lockouts, and other interruptions of work. He has also written widely on employment law subjects and presented speeches and seminars to hundreds of business associations, bar associations, and client groups concerning a broad range of employment law and legislative issues. He has been recognized numerous times for his legal contributions and has been cited as one of the “top legal minds” in Atlanta by Atlanta Lawyer magazine and named one of Georgia Trend magazine’s Legal Elite in 2010 and 2011. He has been listed in Who’s Who Legal USA—Management Labour & Employment by the researchers at the International Who’s Who Legal publication and was selected as a Client Service All-Star for 2011 in BTI Consulting Group’s survey where an elite group of attorneys are nominated by in-house counsel for their outstanding client service. McIver is “AV” Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell and has been repeatedly selected for inclusion in Georgia Super Lawyers. He has been listed in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Business Lawyers since 2007 and in The Best Lawyers in America since 2006.  In 2012, McIver was appointed by the Georgia Attorney General to serve as Special Assistant Attorney General representing Governor Nathan Deal and the State in the matter of Coleman et al. v Deal and Jackson. He was awarded the 2012 Highest Effort Award from Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for his achievement in the field of law.

Attorney Tracy L. Moon Jr. is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He represents employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. His experience includes representation of employers before state and federal trial and appellate courts in matters under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and a variety of state law wrongful discharge, contract and tort claims. Moon also represents employers before the National Labor Relations Board and other government agencies, including the EEOC and OSHA. Moon counsels and trains employers on labor and employment law, including conducting on-site compliance inspections and in-house management training programs. He is a frequent speaker at various employment and labor law programs.

Don Rountree, president of Rountree Group Communications Management, provides senior-level expertise in integrated communications management for a variety of clients in B2B and B2C industries, as well as provides Rountree Group’s leadership and vision.  He is directly involved with brand awareness, media relations, and integrated communications management. Rountree Group has won more than 145 industry-leading communication awards, and  Rountree has received special recognition from inside PR magazine, The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and International Association of Business Communicators for multiple facets of communications.  Most recently, he was named the 2010 Distinguished Alumni of the Year, Communications Department, Georgia Southern University, and he  received the 2011 Luminary Star award from PRSA/GA.

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