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Thinking Safety September 2012 eNewsletter

Thinking Safety eNewsletter

Thinking Safety Monthly eNewsletter

Five Emergency Exit Misconceptions

September 2012  |  Issue #6

Safety FAQ

QWhat is the maximum working weight for full-body harnesses for OSHA and ANSI.

AAccording the OSHA, the maximum working weight on a full-body harness is 400 pounds for a person including his/her tools. ANSI limits the maximum working weight for a harness to 310 pounds for a person and tools. Note: Always consult the manufacturer's ratings for maximum working weight when considering any style/model and brand of harness.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has deemed October 7-13 as National Fire Prevention Week. During this time, children all across America are reminded about the dangers of fires and how to prevent them. From an early age we are taught stop, drop and roll, as well as the importance of knowing how to get out of the house in the event of a fire. It's just as important to provide adults with valuable reminders about safely exiting a building during an emergency. To help, this article will shed light on some popular misconceptions related to OSHA's means of egress and the NFPA's Life Safety Code.

Misconception #1:
OSHA is the only agency enforcing emergency exits.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.36 and 1910.37 outline design and construction requirements for exits. In addition the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code also provides guidelines for the means of egress and emergency exits.

Misconception #2:
All exit signs must be the color red.

There is not a current NFPA or OSHA requirement for a specific color of the exit sign. Section of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code states the sign must be a distinctive color and design so that it is readily visible and shall provide contrast with decorations, interior finish or other signs. However, local codes may dictate a specific color. It's always advisable to check with your local fire marshal to make sure your city or state does not require a specific color.

Misconception #3:
All glow-in-the-dark exit signs meet the NFPA 101 requirements.

As noted in section a photo luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) sign is an internally illuminated sign. Photo luminescent exit signs are permitted, provided they are listed in accordance with UL 924, Standard for Safety Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment.

Misconception #4:
All internal doors must be labeled, "No Exit".

Section of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code states 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". If a door is labeled to provide information about what's behind it (such as an electrical room) there should not be any confusion, as long as it cannot be mistaken as a possible exit.

Misconception #5:
Compliance with both OSHA and NFPA codes for exits is mandatory.

An employer who demonstrates compliance with the exit route provisions of NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code, will be deemed to be in compliance with the corresponding requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.34, 1910.36 and 1910.37.

These five misconceptions above are only a few of the common questions which arise. If you have additional questions you can find further information on the Means of Egress and the Life Safety Code by viewing our Grainger Quick Tips #268 Means of Egress. You can also find information in the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.36 and 1910.37 standards.

29 CFR 1910.34
29 CFR 1910.36
29 CFR 1910.37
NFPA 101 Life Safety Code

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Ask a Certified Safety Professional 

Ask a CSP   by Wes Maertz, CSP

Technical Support Specialist
Certified Safety Professional
B.S.E. in Occupational Safety
14 years at Grainger
Question: Joe works the 3rd shift at a manufacturing facility. As part of our new hire orientation, he was given emergency evacuation instructions. Recently, a fire alarm activated and a group made their way to a designated fire-evacuation area outside the building. While the evacuation route inside the building was clearly defined and illuminated, once this group left the building it was pitch black outside. This made locating our designated evacuation meeting area a challenge (and kind of scary). Are employers required to illuminate designated evacuation routes and meeting areas outside a building?

Interpretation:OSHA states in 29 CFR 1910.37(b)(1) that each exit route must be adequately lit. OSHA defines an exit route in 29 CFR 1910.35(c) as a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety via three points: the exit, exit access and exit discharge. Each point defines the path inside the building leading to the physical exit door. It does not define any points once outside the building like a parking lot or public way.

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Improving Chemical Safety 

OSHA and NIOSH have joined forces to help insure safe practices for workers using cleaning chemicals. Chemicals used by workers who clean buildings, schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and factories can pose health risks. Exposure can cause skin rashes, burns to the eyes, nose and throat, cough and asthma.

To reduce the exposure to these chemicals many employers are moving toward greener cleaning products. The reason for the switch to greener cleaning products is that they commonly use active ingredients that are thought to be less toxic, volatile or caustic than many conventional cleaning products.

OSHA and NIOSH have released an infosheet "Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning Chemicals" which provides employers with guidance on choosing safer cleaning products, safe work practices, worker training and better cleaning methods. Accompanying the infosheet is the poster "Protect Yourself: Cleaning Chemicals and Your Health," which informs workers of the hazards of cleaning chemicals, symptoms and employer responsibility.

You can find out more about green-related products and services on the Green Resources page at®.

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Wildland Respirator Certifications 

In a July, 2012 letter to respirator manufacturers, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced its intent to issue approval certifications for Wildland Fire Respirators. The letter states that NIOSH will begin issuing certifications for respirators for use during wildland fire fighting operations.

A press release on the Centers for Disease Control website provides more details concerning this announcement.

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Join Us in Orlando for the 2012 NSC Congress & Expo! 

Come help us celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of this important event for the safety industry. Visit Grainger at Booth #1813 on Oct. 22-24 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. We'd love to meet you and talk about how Grainger can help make the job of creating safer workplaces easier!

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FREE September Webinar: The ABCs of Fall Protection 

Grainger Technical Product Support Specialist Amy will host a Tech Talk® webinar on the ABCs of Fall Protection on Thursday, September 27 at 1 p.m. CT. Topics on the agenda for this webinar include inspection procedures, OSHA and ANSI regulations regarding fall protection and a host of other essential information about fall protection equipment.

If you're interested in participating, visit our Webinar page to register.

Register Now!

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Did You Know? 

Grainger offers a wide variety of Capital Safety/DBI Sala products for your fall protection needs.

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Think Safety. Think Grainger.®

Rely on North America's largest distributor of safety products. You'll also find a network of safety resources that help you stay in compliance and help protect employees from hazardous situations. Count on Grainger for lockout tagout, fall protection equipment, confined space products, safety signs, personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency response and so much more!

Please Note
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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