If you work in a high rise building or in an office, then your building must be equipped with emergency exits which can be easily accessed in the event of a fire, explosion, natural disaster, or hazardous material situation. If your building has been overcrowded or the furniture has been arranged to block the emergency exit, this is a violation of the federal building standards, and you have the right to seek compensation against your workplace if you are injured as a result.
An exit route must have an exit access which is a portion of the exit route that leads to an exit. It must also have an exit that is separated from other areas of the office and provides a protected way of travel to an exit discharge. The exit discharge is the part of the route that leads directly to the street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space that will take individuals outside.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration require that most buildings have two emergency exits that are structured according to the federal codes. The amount of emergency exits required will go up depending on the amount of employees at a particular workplace. Exit routes must be located as far away from each other as possible so that all workers have options depending on the location of a fire or another hazard within the building.
All exit routes in the workplace must be permanent, and they must lead directly outside or to a refuge area or public way that has access to the outside. All exit stairwells must be clearly marked with signs that designate the location of the exits so that workers won't rush by the exit in their attempt to outside.
OSHA also requires that all exit doors be unlocked from the inside, so that individuals will never be blocked from getting outside because of this issue. The doors need to be free of any devices or alarms that would keep people from escaping through them in an emergency and are supposed to swing out if they are connected to a room that holds more than 50 people in order to allow individuals to exit quickly.
If you work in a workplace where these standards are not properly followed, or if you were injured during an emergency evacuation because of structural inconsistencies or design defects concerning the emergency exits, then you have the right to seek compensation from your company. You are supposed to be protected during your time at the office. If you are not protected as expected, then you have the ability to contact a New York workers' compensation lawyer and explain your case. You may be able to get reimbursement for any medical bills that you have accumulated due to injuries from the evacuation.