Means of egress widths in suites

OSHA Healthcare Connection, November 20, 2012

Q: During a recent survey, we were cited for not maintaining at least 36 inches of clear width in our suites for exiting purposes. I thought one of the ­advantages of suites is corridor widths are not required to be maintained, according to section (exception 2) in the 2000 edition of the LSC. Why would we have to maintain 36 inches of clearance?

A: You are correct when you say corridor widths are not required to be maintained in a suite of rooms; however, the surveyor was correct in that aisle widths must be maintained in all areas of the means of egress. Let's review the basic concept of a suite: A suite is simply a large room with a lot of smaller rooms inside it. There are constraints on the size of the suite and limitations on the travel distances from inside the suite to the corridor door. One of the advantages of a suite is what looks like a corridor inside the suite is actually just a common space, and the width does not have to be maintained to 8 feet clearance, as you pointed out. However, the means of egress must meet minimum clearances according to section, which is at least 36 inches clearance for new construction and 28 inches for existing. The means of egress is defined in section 3.3.121 as "a continuous … way of travel from any point in the building … to a public way …" The means of egress applies to all rooms, including suites, even if there are no corridors in that area, so you would have to comply with section and allow a minimum aisle width of 36 inches for new construction or 28 inches for existing conditions.

Source: Excerpted from Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, November 2012.

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