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OSHA Compliant Fire Exit Signs: Which Material to Choose?


Fire exit routes allow efficient evacuation in case of emergencies and natural disasters. They are a necessary feature of any safe building. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates all public buildings to have at least two permanent fire exit routes. Aside from being accessible to employees at all times, these routes should also be clearly marked by fire exit signs that follow the regulations set by OSHA.

One of the top considerations for OSHA compliant fire exit signs is material, especially for the illuminated kinds. To help you select the right ones, below is an overview of the top three materials allowed by OSHA for illuminated exit signs:


Tritium is a radioactive hydrogen isotope. Signs made of tritium are not only attractive, but also convenient. They do not depend on any electrical source, making them good for outdoor locations and remote areas in the facility.

However, tritium is still radioactive and might prove hazardous to people's health. A fact sheet issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that tritium can even lead to cancer. Hence, additional warning signs informing employees and passersby of the signs' radioactive nature must be installed. In case the signs' tubes break, evacuate the area immediately and ask for assistance from experts.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

Exit signs equipped with LED are usually made of aluminum, brass, and stainless steel. They generally last up to 25 years, and unlike tritium, they do not pose potential radioactive hazards in case of breakage. The only problem you might have with LED signs is that they might not light up during a fire or an electrical outage. These signs also lack in durability, and so are not advisable for industrial settings.

Strontium Oxide Aluminate

Also known as photoluminescent (PL) signs, exit signs made of strontium oxide aluminate are another good alternative for tritium signs. Like LED signs, they are not radioactive in nature. You also do not have to worry about power disruptions disabling your fire exit signs because PL signs continue to work despite of them.

Consider also your budget and planned locations to better choose the right signs. Although tritium signs are highly efficient because they glow nonstop, do not require electricity, and work everywhere, disposal can be costly considering they are radioactive. LED signs are cheaper but cannot withstand industrial conditions. For multi-story buildings requiring a lot of exit signs, PL signs are the best option since they are affordable and work perfectly indoors.

Hazel Evangelista is a writer, reader, and part-time sun-worshipper. She's been writing about safety and security lately, and you can find more of her work at Emedco's Blog. If not busy at work, she's busy with life - climbing mountains, surfing waves, or lazing by the beach with a good book in hand.

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