By Jessica Stark

It can be easy to take your office’s emergency lighting for granted. These lights are hidden in dark corners of your building and above emergency exit doors that are rarely used, but in case of an emergency, those dusty lights that you’ve neglected for so long can help guide you and your coworkers to safety. Is your emergency lighting in proper working condition? There are many OSHA rules and regulations regarding emergency lighting to make sure you and your people stay safe. When setting up your office, be sure to adhere to these requirements to avoid potential harm and accidents for your coworkers.

However, OSHA’s requirements can be tricky to navigate due to its technical language. A wide variety of emergency lighting equipment is available, but how can you be sure what types adhere to requirements?

First, be sure that your signs are the proper height. OSHA requires that the word “EXIT” be easily legible with letters no shorter than six inches in height. Requirements vary depending on the location of the sign in relation to the exit, so an arrow directing people to the exit door may sometimes be required.

Whether an emergency exit sign is externally illuminated, internally illuminated, or photo luminescent, it must be continuously lit while the building is occupied so that it may be visible in regular lighting as well as emergency lighting.

An important thing to be sure of when working with an expert to set up or update your building’s emergency lighting is that the equipment is in place to guide people to safety. During power outages, storms, fires or other disasters, panic and self-preservation can overpower a person’s normal instincts and behaviors. Bright, effective lighting and distinctive signs can guide someone in a panic to safety and keep them from bringing harm to themselves or other people. While OSHA and other national regulators do not require that “EXIT” signs be a particular color, be sure to check local laws to see if a particular color is needed.

It is also important to use “NO EXIT” signs when appropriate. According to the NFPA, a “NO EXIT” sign is needed when “any door, passage, or stairway that is neither an exit nor a way of exit access and that is located or arranged so that it is likely to be mistaken for an exit shall be identified by a sign that reads: NO EXIT.”

The many regulations from OSHA and other governing bodies regarding emergency lighting can be tricky to follow, even with a helpful guide. However, these rules are in place to keep your employees, coworkers and guests safe in times of emergency. Whether your emergency lighting is in need of an update or you are working closely with a contractor to select the proper equipment for your newly built office, be sure to pay attention to your EXIT signs and lighting systems. Proper preparation now will prevent potential tragedies later.