Q: I have a facility that the ground floor is classified as Industrial occupancy. But we have an area that has an eight-foot corridor, with a offset six-foot opening. The offset leaves about a 20 inch alcove in one side. My housekeeping manager is wanting to put several 32 gallon capacity recyclable containers there, in the corridor alcove. I know the exit cannot be used for anything else, and nothing should be put into a corridor that has the potential to restrict the required width, so I told them no. But they keep saying the containers are not in the required width of the corridor. But I think they will be an obstruction as the containers will get dislodged and obstruct the required width during an emergency. You need to settle this argument.
A: I like the way you think. Trash cans that are not secured to the wall or floor may end up moving around and becoming an obstacle during an emergency evacuation. However, the housekeeping manager does have a point. The required width of the corridor in an Industrial occupancy is a minimum of 36 inches and a maximum based on the occupant load times 0.4 inches if the area is considered high hazard, or 0.2 inches if the area is not considered high hazard.
The occupant load is determined by dividing gross floor area by 100. So a 10,000 square foot building would have an occupant load of 100, and if considered a high hazard area, then 100 x 0.4 inches = 40 inches of width in the corridor that is required. If you have eight-foot wide corridors, then the placement of trash containers in the corridor in such a way that there still remains 40 inches of clear width would be permitted. This does not necessarily mean you have to allow it. If you consider the placement of trash containers in the corridor to be a hazard to evacuation, then don’t do it. There is nothing wrong in complying to a higher level of standard than what the LSC permits. Also, please check with your state and local authorities to determine if they have any standards which would affect this decision.