Exiting Obstructions


During the lab inspections it was noted that several labs have placed items such as cabinets, desks, shelves, refrigerators, etc. in the aisles of their modules blocking access and egress to adjacent modules.   It was also noted that items, including file cabinets, bookshelves, trash cans, etc., have been placed at the ends of the work benches which narrows the aisles (See figure 1).

 Fire and Occupational Safety Codes require two ways out of these spaces because of the nature of the work and the hazards present in these areas.  Blocking and/or narrowing the aisle of the lab modules or doors between labs creates situations where exiting in emergencies may be difficult, if not impossible.   Aisle must be 44 inches wide.

 Figure – 1 shows what has been found in some areas where items have been  placed to block access between modules.  Also  note Items  placed at the ends of the work benches which reduce the aisle width.  Approximate hood locations are shown.  Hoods can vary is size.

blocked egress

Figure 1 Diagram showing how aisles  have been blocked in lab modules.

UNMC Facilities - Architecture and Engineering Services has developed a demising wall concept to separate lab modules when there is a valid scientific need.  This concept includes demising walls with panels that split the lab work benches.  To satisfy fire and safety codes and comply with the requirement for a second means of egress this separation must include a door in the aisle furthest from the corridor.  This door must be accessible from both sides at all times.  It can only be secured using approved methods such as delayed egress.

The Safety Leadership Team recommends that demising walls with the door in the back aisle is the only approved method of separating laboratory modules in DRC 1 & 2.  Prior to any work being done a Request for Laboratory Project Review form (should be completed and submitted to the DRC Research Resources Manager).  The researcher or their department is responsible for the cost to install demising walls.

In buildings where there are doors between labs, the doors must not be locked or blocked with equipment or stored items.   The door may only be secured using approved methods such as delayed egress.

Campus Safety will continue to enforce storage in aisles and access to exits during safety inspections.

REFERENCE: DRC 1 and II Modification Policy