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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Building Pathways Use

Policy Number: 88


Obstruction of building pathways


Employees, students, trainees, visitors and vendors

Date Reviewed:
December 2017
Responsible Office:
Environmental Health and Safety
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management


It is the policy of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("University") that building pathways, including, but not limited to, corridors and stairways, remain unobstructed. No objects may be placed in building stairwells. Any objects placed in building corridors must meet certain clearance requirements to ensure free passage in the event of an emergency.

Guidelines for this policy describe specific situations when it is permissible to locate objects in a building corridor.

Responsible Parties: The implementation of this policy is incumbent upon all members of the University community including students, trainees, faculty, staff and vendors. Several elements of the University have specific responsibilities.

Facilities, Planning, and Engineering (FPE) is responsible for the overall safe operation and maintenance of University buildings. FPE collaborates with Capital Assets Management (CAM) to ensure the prompt removal of items designated for surplus.

Deans, Department Chairs, DMOs and administrative area directors are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy as it applies to space they may occupy and/or oversee and assets for which they are responsible. These individuals are also responsible for ensuring that personnel under their supervision are aware of and understand this building pathways policy and how it applies to their areas.

Principal Investigators (PIs) are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy as it applies to equipment and laboratory areas they may occupy or oversee. The investigators are to ensure that laboratory personnel are aware of and understand this policy and how it applies to their areas.

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is responsible for conducting periodic inspections of University corridors to monitor for conditions that may require corrective action. EHS is empowered to take immediate actions to bring about the removal of items that could prevent safe entry and egress. EHS is also responsible for providing additional guidance or interpretation of the provisions of this policy. Although every attempt has been made to identify and explain the various requirements associated with the safe utilization of University building corridors, some unique situations may arise that are not addressed here. EHS will review and provide clarification of such situations as needed.


A. Requesting Approval of Temporary Placement of Objects in Pathways

Individuals wishing to place an item in a common space or hallway should contact EHS so that the specific situation can be evaluated. Established guidelines will be used as the basis for this assessment. If the item can be placed in a manner that is conducive to the guidelines, EHS will tag the item with a label, indicating review and approval of its placement. Included on the label are the conditions associated with the placement of the item and a date for periodic re-assessment.

Items not bearing EHS approval labels that are located in public spaces or hallways are subject to immediate removal.

B. Response to Non-Compliance

1. If, during a routine evaluation or inspection, EHS or another responsible party observes a physical safety hazard in a pathway, the observer will advise the responsible department authority verbally of the need to remove the object. If the observer determines the situation to be one of imminent danger, he or she will advise department management that departmental operations will be halted until the situation is resolved. EHS will advise the department how to conduct the operation safely and will facilitate resolution of the issue. If departmental employees take immediate steps to correct the discrepancy, no further response will be requested. If the hazard is not mitigated within 14 days of the initial notification to the department, EHS will issue a written summary of the findings and recommendations, including corrections, to the responsible department with a copy to FPE. The responsible department will be requested to take corrective action within 7 days. The responsible party must advise EHS of resolution of the problem with a verbal, email, or written response. (Imminently dangerous situations must be corrected immediately.)

2. If the hazard is not mitigated within the 7 day deadline, EHS will send a written notification to the responsible party for that area, such as the Department Chair or equivalent, and the Vice President of FPE. The violation will also be presented to the Safety Council for review. The responsible party must submit a written response, including specific steps taken to ensure correction, to EHS within 7 days. 

3. If, within the required 7 days of the second documented notification, the hazard is not mitigated in an acceptable manner, EHS will provide the Dean and Vice President of FPE a written account of the situation, with a copy forwarded to the Chief Legal Officer. At this point, the item or items will be removed by FPE.

4. Continued or persistent violation of this building pathways use policy may result in disciplinary action for failure to comply with University policy.


    • Environmental Health and Safety
    • 713-500-8100