OSHA Lighting Systems: Frequently Asked Questions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require many buildings to implement federal egress standards. Perhaps the most critical of these standards deal with emergency egress lighting, which illuminates a building’s exit paths when utility power is out. If your building must comply with federal standards for emergency egress systems, but you need information on OSHA lighting systems, the answers below can help.

Which areas in my building need backup lights?

OSHA requires backup lighting to be placed in a building’s exit routes. In most buildings, exit routes consist of vertical exit enclosures, exit passageways, and any egress path that could be traveled to reach an exit. For specific information on exit routes, building owners should refer to OSHA standard 1910.36.

How much illumination should backup lights provide?

Backup lighting should burn at a minimum of 10.8 lux. Illumination should be measured by placing a light meter at floor level in an exit route. Measurements should be taken at frequent intervals along the route’s length.

Should lights be battery or generator powered?

OSHA permits backup lighting to be either generator or battery powered. Many building owners consider the former the most reliable option due to the possibility of generator failure. For specific information on generator requirements, building owners should refer to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 110.

If lights are generator powered, can the generator operate manually?

No. OSHA lighting systems standards require backup lighting to operate automatically. This means the generator that powers it must operate automatically, having an automatic transfer switch. Furthermore, backup lighting must operate automatically without requiring manual reset.

Does the OSHA have testing requirements for backup lights?

The organization does. Battery powered backup lighting should undergo a ninety minute test at least once a year. Generator powered backup lighting should undergo a thirty second test at least once a month. During these tests, you should measure the illumination of your building’s backup lights.

Is it possible to replace backup lights with luminescent egress markings?

No. If OSHA requires your building to contain backup lighting, noncompliance could result in large fines and potentially prison time. However, municipal building codes typically require buildings to contain photoluminescent egress markings, along with to backup lighting.

What are specific penalties for noncompliance?

If an individual building owner willfully violates OSHA lighting systems standards, he or she could face a $70,000 fine. If an individual building owner makes willful violation and it results in the death of a worker, he or she could be fined $250,000 and receive six months in prison. If a corporation makes a willful violation, it could face a $500,000 fine.

How can GloBrite assist with egress code compliance?

GloBrite sells photoluminescent exit signs, fire safety signs, and egress markings that meet NFPA code requirements, some of which have been adopted by the OSHA. Our products are also compliant with the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fire Code (IFC), which have been adopted by forty-two of the fifty American states.

When considering your building’s emergency egress requirements, be sure to consider state and municipal requirements, as well as federal requirements.

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