The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) administers the regulations regarding emergency exits from commercial buildings. One of the most critical regulations involves the type of door hardware installed on fire doors. The easiest way to meet the OSHA requirements is to install tested and certified panic bars.
The requirement states that exit doors must only be locked from the outside. Employees and others must be able to open the door from the inside at all times without having to use a key, tool or special knowledge. The only exceptions are in prisons or mental health facilities in which staff is available to unlock the door around the clock. You should look for the terms “Fire Rated” or “UL listed for Fire Exit Hardware” when selecting exit devices for fire doors.
In addition, you’ll want devices that are certified to ANSI A156.3, 2001, Grade 1 standards. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a non-profit organizations that works with government entities and manufacturers to ensure conformity in performance and characteristics of the products they certify. You know you’re getting a panic bar that meets OSHA standards if it has been certified by ANSI. Purchasing products from well-known companies, such as Von Duprin, Monarch and Dor-O-Matic, who work closely with ANSI further ensures that you get exit devices that meet OSHA requirements.
Another key requirement for fire door hardware is that it not include any electronic or other feature that would interfere with a person’s ability to open the door in case of an emergency. Many companies install security systems that tie into the building’s fire alarm system. Many fire-rated panic bars can also be tied into the system to either trip the alarm when the exit device is pushed or to automatically open when the building fire alarm goes off. Often companies post signs warning that the alarm will sound if the door is opened to prevent someone from tripping the alarm in a non-emergency situation. If the device is to work in tandem with the security system, under no circumstances can the system cause a situation which restricts emergency use of the exit door if the alarm or security system were to fail. A good choice for panic bars that work with security systems are the ones from Von Duprin which override the security system when a fire alarm sounds.