There are a number of liabilities that bar staff and owners have to be aware of when operating on a daily basis. From slips and falls to overserving, the usual suspects of risks can happen at any time in the nightlife community. However, one risk that owners should not push to the side is making sure that an establishment has the right safe exit routes in place in case of an evacuation.
Fires, floods, leaks, violent acts: there are a number of reasons why patrons at a bar will have to exit safely. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there needs to be at least two exit routes available to permit quick and safe evacuation of employees and other occupants (i.e. staff) in the event of an emergency.
What Makes an Exit Route?
OSHA defines an exit route as a “continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety”. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bar, restaurant, office, or government building, wherever there are works and the public, there needs to be adequate safety points for people to get out to a safe meeting point.
An exit route includes exit access, which leads to an exit, the exit itself, and an exit discharge area, which leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, or public way.
Establishments that do not have these access points available for patrons and staff are putting everyone in harm’s way. In the event of an emergency in which people had to get out and were not given this access, liability claims can be made against a bar. This highlights the need to put in place bar liability insurance programs that can provide financial protection for bars.
There are many other components that should be considered to help ensure that an establishment has safe exit routes. Doors, for example, play a big role in the overall safety of those inside when it comes to getting outside. Exit doors must be kept unlocked at all times and any doors that connect to any room to an exit route must swing out in the direction of travel.
Spacing is also an issue as there must be enough space to allow multiple people an opportunity to exit at once. Exit routes must be at least 28 inches wide at all points and be unobstructed and free from clutter. In the event of an emergency, having a clear line of sight and clear passage (as much as possible) is the key to getting everyone out without anyone tripping and falling, and causing a domino-like effect wherein people get trampled.
Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit,” and adequate lighting must be supplied as well. People exiting in a rush must be able to see where they are headed and not have to guess their steps. What’s more, there should be signs posted along the exit route to show the nearest exit and how to get there.
No matter the size of the bar, no matter the location, it’s important to keep the safety of all patrons in mind when building out routes of exit. Daily sweeps of all exit routes and exit locations should be made to make sure all is clear and safe in those areas.
About RMS Hospitality Group
At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390
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