Safety Policies

SY36 Corridor Storage and Use

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Steve Triebold, 863-3915,

Policy Steward: 

Director of Environmental Health and Safety



To establish a policy to ensure that building corridors and stairways are maintained clear to provide safe exit access for students, faculty, staff and visitors in case of an emergency and to minimize the hazards to emergency response personnel while operating in buildings under emergency conditions.


  • The International Fire Code as Adopted by PA Labor and Industry – Latest Edition
  • Local amendments to The International Fire Code
  • 29 CFR 1910 OSHA General Industry Regulations Subpart E – Means of Egress
  • National Fire Protection Association Standard 101 “Life Safety Code” 2000 edition
  • International Code Council / ANSI A117.1 – 2003 Edition


Building Corridor / Hallway: Any passageway connecting individual rooms and spaces that lead to an exit door, stairwell, or other place of refuge used by personnel evacuating the area and emergency personnel arriving to the area.

Area of Refuge: A space protected from the effects of fire by means of separation from other spaces in the same building (e.g., stairway landings, vestibule), permitting a delay in egress travel from any level.

Equipment: Anything which occupies a permanent footprint on the floor and requires electrical power to operate (e.g., copy machine, vending machine).

Material: Item such as file cabinet, furnishing, trash/recycling container, construction material.

Service Aisle way: An aisle way designed and dedicated for the placement of equipment and supplies to support building operations. Service aisle ways are physically separated from public corridors and not designed for public use.

Stairway: One or more flights of stairs, either exterior or interior, that serves as the primary vertical means of egress for personnel evacuating the area and emergency responders arriving to the area.

Temporary: Thirty days maximum duration.


This policy applies to corridors and stairways in all Pennsylvania State University owned, occupied or operated facilities with the exception of the Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine.


Storage in and use of corridors or stairways in Penn State University owned, occupied or operated facilities must be in accordance with the OSHA 29 CFR 1910 General Industry Regulations Subpart E “Means of Egress,” The International Fire Code, local municipality ordinances and procedures established herein. This policy prohibits the placement or storage of materials and equipment in corridors and stairways that may negatively impact emergency evacuation, contribute or result in building emergency events, or reduce or delay emergency responders entering the area.

Maintaining clear corridors and paths of egress travel is fundamental to life safety. Egress corridors are intended by the code to be separate and distinct from occupied work areas to protect the occupants’ path to the exterior and to keep known hazards typically found in work spaces and their consequent dangers from endangering larger numbers of occupants evacuating the area. The generally accepted minimum unobstructed corridor width of 44 inches shall apply to most university buildings; however, in buildings containing large lecture halls, classrooms, recreational and assembly areas or large buildings with increased occupant loads, an evaluation by Environmental Health and Safety will need to be conducted to determine the minimum required clear exit width.

A minimum 36 inch clear width shall be maintained in service aisle ways.

Many buildings contain corridors which are wider than the minimum required clear exit width. In certain situations it may be possible to utilize space in corridors for other purposes in addition to occupant movement.

Funding the removal of unacceptable items from corridors or other locations as specified by this policy will be the responsibility of the work unit storing the materials. If the Office of Physical Plant funds the removal of such items, they will be reimbursed by the work unit responsible for the storage. Unacceptable items are subject to removal by the Office of Physical Plant (or EHS if hazardous materials are involved) within 30 days after the violations are observed. Safety Officers will be notified of violations in advance of the items being removed.

The following are conditions that allow for equipment and materials storage in corridors:

  1. Building Facility Coordinator approval must be granted prior to the placement of any item(s) in building corridors, as specified in accordance with this policy.
  2. Equipment and materials shall not be placed within 8 feet of exit doors and stairwell doors.
  3. A minimum wall clearance of 18 inches shall be provided on both sides of fire extinguishers, fire alarm pull stations, fire hose connections, fire blanket cabinets, safety showers, AED (Automated External Defibrillator) stations, utility panels and access panels.
  4. Corridor placement of books/paper, plastic, cardboard, glassware etc. shall be in enclosed storage cabinets including file drawers. This shall not prevent the posting of class information in corridors in accordance with OPP procedures and the placement of a small container for the drop-off of homework assignments.
  5. Furniture which does not contain highly combustible materials such as polyurethane foam, padding and stuffing, is permitted in corridors.
  6. Acceptable materials and equipment placed in corridors shall be located along one side of the corridor.
  7. Office of Physical Plant provided trash and recycling containers shall be permitted to be placed in corridors.
  8. All equipment and temporarily placed materials in corridors shall be clearly labeled with the owners name, contact information, and date placed in corridor.
  9. Materials may not be placed closer than 18 inches to the bottom of sprinkler heads.
  10. Equipment (e.g., vending machines) placed in corridors requiring electrical power shall have a dedicated electrical receptacle nearby. Electrical extension cords are not permitted to be used.
  11. If a building will remain in use during renovation and construction activities, the temporary staging of materials related to construction / renovation activities is permitted in corridors as long as the minimum required exit width is provided for building occupants and workers. Under no conditions may items be placed or staged in stairways. All materials placed in the corridor during the construction project must be removed from the corridor as soon as possible. No materials may remain in the corridor after thirty days following project completion even if the 44 inch minimum width can be provided.

The following equipment and items are prohibited from corridor storage at all times:

  1. Flammable and combustible liquids
  2. Hazardous chemicals
  3. Compressed gas cylinders
  4. Equipment operating under either positive or negative pressure, high temperature or high voltage
  5. Equipment with exposed machine parts (e.g., unguarded belts, pulleys or gears)
  6. Any items which move easily or could fall over and cause an obstruction
  7. Furniture or other items that contain highly combustible materials such as polyurethane foam
  8. Any item or combination of items in a quantity or configuration that presents a fire or life safety hazard to the public, physically impaired persons or emergency response personnel
  9. Any item that has both (1) a protrusion into the corridors walking surface of 4 inches or more and (2) the protrusion is at a height of 27 to 80 inches above the floor
  10. Corridor space shall not be utilized to create additional workstations
  11. Food preparation appliances including microwave ovens, coffee makers and toasters unless the location (e.g. designated alcove, break area) is permitted by code standards (by the Office of Physical Plant Design and Construction Division)

Stairwell Usage Restrictions

In the event of an emergency, stairwells serve as the primary vertical exit path for occupants evacuating the area. It is critical that stairwells remain clear and unobstructed at all times. No equipment, furniture, or materials is permitted in stairways regardless of combustibility or location within the stairwell, unless a code approved (by the Office of Physical Plant Design and Construction Division) enclosure is provided.


The success of this policy depends upon the cooperation of all University employees and students. It is the responsibility of all members of the Penn State community to observe this policy. Each University member is responsible to comply with this policy at his / her level of involvement in the University community.

Administrative Unit Heads:

  • Assure that facilities under their jurisdiction are in compliance with this Policy.

Facility Coordinators:

  • Be aware of the policy and communicate policy content to appropriate individuals within their jurisdiction.
  • Approve the placement of any items in building corridors.
  • Work with Project Managers and Project Coordinators to identify alternate locations for placement of materials and displaced room furnishings during construction activity to ensure compliance with this policy and to resolve problems.
  • Monitor compliance and assist with issues related to the policy.

University Safety Council Representatives (a.k.a. Safety Officers):

  • Be knowledgeable of this policy and communicate its content throughout areas of jurisdiction.
  • Initiate proper follow-up measures and ensure corrective actions are implemented to comply with the policy.
  • Monitor and ensure compliance within their work unit.

OPP Project Leaders (a.k.a. Project Managers, Project Coordinators):

  • Review impact of construction activity on existing building corridors to ensure compliance with the policy.
  • Ensure project planning includes both the identification of locations for placement and storage of materials and displaced room furnishings to ensure the intent of this policy is met.
  • Work with Facility Coordinators and others within the Office of Physical Plant to identify other locations for storage of items.
  • Ensure contractors maintain equipment and supplies in accordance with the policy.
  • Work with all involved parties to resolve problems associated with this policy

Environmental Health and Safety:

  • Develop and distribute the written Policy on Corridor Storage and Use.
  • Provide guidance to university staff for policy implementation.
  • Provide or coordinate awareness programs for facility occupants.
  • Provide oversight for work unit compliance with this policy.
  • Maintain records of non-compliance issues.
  • Notify facility occupants, Facility Coordinators, Safety Officers and contractors of non-compliance issues.
  • Provide technical support to, and coordinate, with Facilities Management and other departments, agencies, or individuals responsible for resolving non-compliance issues.
  • Annually review this Policy for effectiveness and revise as necessary.

Lion Surplus:

  • Respond to requests for pick of materials in a timely and coordinated manner.


  • Ensure that employees are aware of this policy.
  • Ensure compliance with this policy.


  • Be aware of the policy and use appropriate areas and locations for the placement and storage of materials and supplies.
  • Notify the facility Safety Officer, Facility Coordinator or EHS of non-compliance issues.


For planning purposes, there are several Penn State resources to assist with storage issues:

  1. Facilities Resources and Planning - to identify both on-site and off-site storage locations.
  2. Auxiliary and Business Services – Lions Surplus for disposition of unused equipment and materials (e.g. Furniture).
  3. Refer to "Attachment A” (Table of Common Items Permitted and Prohibited in Building Corridors), which provides additional information on what is permitted and what is prohibited for corridor placement.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Director of Environmental Health and Safety.


Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

AD35 - University Archives and Records Management

BS15 - Disposal and Purchase of Obsolete, Surplus or Scrap University-Owned Equipment, Supplies and/or Materials

SY01 - Environmental Health and SafetyPolicy


Most Recent Changes:

  • January 13, 2023 - Editorial change to update Policy Steward.
  • March 06, 2019 - Removed AD44 (Retired) from Cross References.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • June 19, 2014 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.

  • December 16, 2009 - New policy.

Date Approved: 

March 6, 2019

Date Published: 

March 6, 2019

Effective Date: 

March 6, 2019