Exits and Exit Routes

An exit is that portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.

An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety including refuge areas. An exit route consists of three parts: the exit access; the exit; and the exit discharge.

Exits and Exit Routes

Tab/Accordion Items

What are the hazards associated with exits and exit routes?

Exits that do not discharge to a safe location can subject workers to a continued risk of injury, illness or death from fires, chemical releases and building collapse. Locked exit doors can result in fatalities when workers are trapped by fires and do not have an accessible way to exit the area. Doors not intended to be exits that are not marked as to their function may prevent workers from exiting in time to a safe location.

What can I do to protect myself?

Workers should familiarize themselves with the exit routes and exits for their work areas. Report any locked exit doors that cannot be opened from the inside.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

The workplace self-inspection checklist [short (General Industry/Construction) and long (General Industry/Construction)] includes a discussion of exits and exit routes and can be adapted for use in the workplace. In addition, the emergency action plan (Construction and General Industry), fire prevention plan (Construction and General Industry) can be modified to fit the workplace.

Example safety and health programs are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions. 

Training and Outreach Services

The presentation on exit routes, emergency action and fire prevention plans can be used by employers to assist in their employee's training and should be modified to reflect specific conditions and hazards in their workplaces. Other example presentations are available along with pre-recorded webinars which can be accessed at any time. 

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Topics

Additional resources can be found on the safety and health topic pages for emergency action plans, emergency response, walking and working surfaces and fire prevention plans

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.


Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to exits and exit routes in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

Maritime, Marine Terminals

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Industry Guides

Compliance Documents

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov, or by phone at 919-707-7876.