What Should Employers do to Protect Workers from Fire Hazards? Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do
in a fire emergency. If you want your workers to evacuate, you should train
them on how to escape. If you expect your workers to use firefighting
equipment, you should give them appropriate equipment and train them to use the
equipment safely. (See Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910
Subparts E and L; and Part 1926 Subparts C and F.)
Does OSHA Require for Emergency Fire Exits? Every
workplace must have enough exits suitably located to enable everyone to get out
of the facility quickly. Considerations include the type of structure, the
number of persons exposed, the fire protection available, the type of industry
involved, and the height and type of construction of the building or structure.
In addition, fire doors must not be blocked or locked when employees are inside.
Delayed opening of fire doors, however, is permitted when an approved alarm
system is integrated into the fire door design. Exit routes from buildings must
be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs. See 29 CFR Part
1910.36 for details about all requirements.
Employers Have to Provide Portable Fire Extinguishers? No.
But if you do, you must establish an educational program to familiarize your
workers with the general principles of fire extinguisher use. If you expect
your workers to use portable fire extinguishers, you must provide hands-on
training in using this equipment. For details, see 29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart L.
employers develop emergency action plans? Not
every employer is required to have an emergency action plan. OSHA standards
that require such plans include the following:
- Process Safety
Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, 1910.119
Extinguishing Systems, General, 1910.160
- Fire Detection
- Grain Handling,
- Ethylene Oxide,
- 1,3 Butadiene,
When required, employers must develop emergency action plans
- Describe the
routes for workers to use and procedures to follow.
- Account for all
- Remain available
for employee review.
procedures for evacuating disabled employees.
evacuation of employees who stay behind to shut down critical plant
- Include preferred
means of alerting employees to a fire emergency.
- Provide for an
employee alarm system throughout the workplace.
- Require an alarm
system that includes voice communication or sound signals such as bells,
whistles, or horns.
- Make the
evacuation signal known to employees.
- Ensure emergency
- Require employer
review of the plan with new employees and with all employees whenever the
plan is changed.
Must employers have a fire prevention plan?
OSHA standards that require fire prevention plans include the following:
- Ethylene Oxide,
- 1,3 Butadiene,
Employers covered by these standards must implement plans to
minimize the frequency of evacuations. All fire prevention plans must:
- Be available for employee review.
- Include housekeeping procedures for storage and cleanup of flammable materials and flammable waste.
- Address handling and packaging of flammable waste. (Recycling of flammable waste such as paper is encouraged.)
- Cover procedures for controlling workplace ignition sources such as smoking, welding, and burning.
- Provide for proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers and require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
- Inform workers of the potential fire hazardsof their jobs and plan procedures.
- Require plan review with all new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.
What are the rules for fixed extinguishing systems?
Fixed extinguishing systems throughout the workplace are among the most reliable fire
fighting tools. These systems detect fires, sound an alarm, and send water to
the fire and heat. To meet OSHA standards employers who have these systems
(temporarily) a fire watch of trained employees to respond to fire
emergencies when a fire suppression system is out of service.
- Ensure that the
watch is included in the fire prevention plan and the emergency action
- Post signs for
systems that use agents (e.g., carbon dioxide, Halon 1211, etc.) posing a
serious health hazard.
How can you get more information on safety and health?
has various publications, standards, technical assistance, and compliance tools
to help you, and offers extensive assistance through workplace consultation,
voluntary protection programs, strategic partnerships, alliances, state plans,
grants, training, and education. OSHA's Safety and Health Program Management
Guidelines ( Federal Register 54:3904-3916, January 26, 1989) detail elements
critical to the development of a successful safety and health management
system. This and other information are available on OSHA's website.
- For one free copy of OSHA publications, send a self-addressed mailing label to OSHA
Publications Office, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., N-3101, Washington, DC 20210; or send a request to our fax at (202) 693-2498, or call us at
- To order OSHA
publications online at www.osha.gov, go to Publications and follow the instructions for ordering.
- To file a complaint by phone, report an emergency, or get OSHA advice, assistance,
or products, contact your nearest OSHA office under the U.S. Department of
Labor listing in your phone book, or call toll-free at (800) 321-OSHA
(6742). The teletypewriter (TTY) number is (877) 889-5627.
- To file a complaint online or obtain more information on OSHA federal and state
programs, visit OSHA's website.
|This is one in a
series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies, or
standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a
comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or
regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon
request. The voice phone is (202) 693–1999. See also OSHA’s website at