Part 2: Corridor Width Requirements within California Healthcare Facilities

By Steven Dannaway, PE, DBIA – The 2019 California Building Code (CBC) specifies minimum width requirements for egress components in healthcare occupancies and is enforced by the California Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) formerly the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). These requirements are often more restrictive than those encountered in other occupancies. The requirements of the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101) must also be considered, although in many cases the CBC is more restrictive. The following is a brief discussion on the minimum required egress widths for stairs and doors corridors in Group I-2 and Group I-2.1 occupancies. This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Part 1 covers egress widths for stairs and doors.

Corridors:  Designers must consider both the requirements of CBC Table 1020.2 and CBC 1224.4.7.  CBC Chapter 10 defines the minimum corridor width requirements for purpose of the Means of Egress. CBC 1224 defines general corridor width requirements within OSHPD-1 (hospitals) and OSHPD-3 facilities (outpatient clinics). Designers can think of CBC 1224 as consisting of general requirements based on the normal day-to-day operations of the facility, whereas CBC Chapter 10 requirements apply to corridors used in the required Means of Egress system.

CHAPTER 10: Egress Width

CBC Table 1020.2 prescribes minimum corridor egress widths in Group I-2 / Group I-2.1 occupancies. These requirements align with the provisions of NFPA 101.

  • 96 inches – Group I-2 areas caring for one or more nonambulatory persons.
  • 72 inches – Corridors serving stretcher traffic in ambulatory healthcare facilities (Group I-2.1).
  • 24 inches – Access to and utilization of MEP systems or equipment.
  • 44-inches – Other conditions, such as non-Group I-2 occupancies.

The Exception to CBC 1020.2 allows Group I-2 corridors to have a clear width of less than 96-inches in areas where there is no stretcher or bed movement for access to care or as part of the defend-in-place strategy. To qualify for this exception, the corridor cannot be in the egress path serving Group I-2 patient areas, cannot be used for normal transport of patients in daily operations, and cannot be included in the smoke compartment refuge area calculations.

An example is the staff circulation space around the nurse station in a patient unit. The circulation space is part of the Group I-2 corridor system and must comply with all Group I-2 corridor requirements. However, where the circulation space is not required for patient egress, the 96-inch corridor width does not apply.

CHAPTER 12: Minimum Corridor/Hallway Width

CBC 1224 contains minimum width requirements for corridors and hallways in OSHPD-1 facilities:

  • 96-inches: Baseline requirement in OSHPD-1 (hospital) facilities.
  • 72-inches: Psychiatric care areas, where patients are not bedridden.
  • 60-inches Service corridors and hallways with anticipated light traffic volume for nonpatient use.
  • 44-inches: Administrative and business areas.
  • 60-inches: Outpatient clinics containing facilities for outpatient use only, such as laboratory, x-ray, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.
  • 44-inches: Outpatient clinics and departments consisting only of waiting rooms, business offices, doctor’s offices, and exam rooms.

OSHPD-3 (outpatient clinic) Corridors/Hallways

Corridors in OSHPD-3 facilities are also subject to the requirements of CBC 1226.4.3.2 and CBC 1224.4.7.1. CBC 1226.4.3.2 states that where corridors serve areas with bed/gurney patients (in OSHPD-3 facilities), the corridors must comply with CBC 1224.4.7.1. As a result, corridors in portions of OSHPD-3 facilities may also require a 96-inch clear width. Understanding this California requirement is important, as CBC Chapter 10 and NFPA 101 would only require a 72-inch corridor width in Group I-2.1 and outpatient ambulatory occupancies.

In OSHPD-3 clinics, the 8-foot corridor width requirement in the CBC Chapter 12 sections applies to corridors that accommodate bed/gurney traffic during normal day-to-day operations. These requirements do not apply to areas that are not licensed as OSHPD-3 or corridors that are not used to transport patients in day-to-day operations. Corridors that do not accommodate bed/gurney traffic during normal day-to-day operations but are required egress routes for the ambulatory care facility (Group I-2.1) only require a minimum clear width of 72-inches (CBC Table 1020.2).

An example might be the Operating Rooms and Preop/PACU in an outpatient surgery center. CBC Chapter 12 requirements specify a minimum 8-ft corridor requirement in the corridors around the ORs, within the PACU/Preop, and transferring between the two. The egress corridors outside these departments leading to the required exits only require a minimum 72-inch corridor per CBC Table 1020.2.

Care Suites:  While corridors in Group I-2 care suites do not require a fire-resistance rating in fully sprinklered buildings, HCAI has enforced the corridor width requirements for the “corridors” in a care suite. In general, Group I-2 care suites that accommodate inpatients who may require the use of a bed/gurney are subject to the minimum 96-inch corridor width. At times, the arrangement of a care suite is such that it is not clear whether the space is a “corridor” or a “room”. In this case, it is recommended the arrangement be reviewed with OSHPD to confirm the appropriate minimum widths of the paths of travel within the care suite.

Exit Passageways:  CBC 1024.2 specifies that the minimum width of exit passageways in Group I-2 occupancies is 44-inches. This is a California amendment and shows a clear intent to only require a 44-inch clear width for exit passageways, even when serving Group I-2 occupancies. Exit passageways must comply with stringent construction requirements and should not be confused with exit access corridors. Designers need to carefully consider the restrictions of CBC 1024 for paths of travel designed as exit passageways.

Click here to view Part 1 of the Coffman Insights series that covers egress width requirements within California healthcare facilities.

Read more Engineering Insights for California Healthcare.