Exit Signage

Q: This question was recently brought to my attention: “Why do rooms, offices, and work areas do not have “Exit” signs over the doors leaving the rooms?” I could not find an answer for that. But I did notice that rooms within a room do not have “Exit” signs as well. The “Exit” signs throughout our hospital are all in the corridors that lead patrons to the public way.  But if you are in a room, or within another room, are “Exit” signs required?

A: Not necessarily. Look at section 7.10.1.5.1 in the 2012 LSC, which says: “Access to exits shall be marked by approved, readily visible, signs in all cases where the exit or way to reach the exit is not readily apparent to the occupants.” (Emphasis mine).

If the path of egress is readily apparent to all occupants of a room or area, then the case can be made that “Exit” signs are not required to mark the access to the exit. An office does not require an “Exit” sign because the occupant obviously knows the way out of the room. It is “readily apparent” to the occupant. However, “Exit” signs would be required in a cafeteria dining rooms or an auditorium because it is likely there will be people, such as visitors or patients, who do not necessarily know the way out, so the exit is not ‘readily apparent’ to them.

The danger with not marking a means of egress comes with the assumption that every employee knows the way out, and the way to reach the exit is readily apparent. Departments that are visited by people not familiar with the way out need to be marked with “Exit” signs, regardless whether those people are employees or visitors.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.