On June 17, 2013, in its newsletter “OSHA QuickTakes”, OSHA reported that it has issued a national memorandum on exit routes directing field inspectors to carefully examine whether employers have provided and maintained adequate exit routes from work areas. This comes in response to a massive fire and explosion at a Chinese poultry processing plant on June 4, 2013, in which an estimated 119 employees perished. Survivors described workers struggling through smoke and flames to reach doors that turned out to be locked or blocked.
The memorandum directs compliance officers to pay particular attention to the following during an OSHA inspection: whether an adequate number of exit routes are provided, that the exit routes are free and unobstructed, and that exit doors are not locked.
Employers can take the following internal steps to ensure the safety of their employees and that they are in compliance: