Emergency lighting is a crucial aspect of any commercial space as it provides illumination in the event of an emergency situation when the main power supply is cut and the normal lighting fails. This can happen for a number of reasons; a fire which reaches the wires or circuits, a power cut or an electrical fault of some kind which could either result in a shut down or a blown system. If emergency lighting is not immediately triggered into action, the workplace will be plunged into complete darkness which poses a number of problems. Firstly, if there is machinery in operation, accidents resulting in serious injury could occur. If there are people moving about the workplace who can suddenly not see where they are going, other type of accidents including trips or falls might occur and also, being plunged into darkness could cause panic amongst staff. Not only is emergency lighting necessary in these instances, but in the event of building evacuation being required, the workforce needs to see where the emergency exits are but need to be able to navigate to them safely. Emergency lighting is a legal requirement in commercial premises for these safeguarding reasons.
What constitutes emergency lighting?
Emergency lighting is basically lighting that comes on automatically in the event of the main lighting going off, usually as a result of some kind of power failure. There are several different types of emergency lighting, as this is a general term which includes:
Standby lighting: this is the lighting which would jump into action in the even of the failure of the standard lighting in the building. It will allow the staff to carry on with their normal function, provided of course that there is not an emergency situation which necessitates they leave the building. This form of emergency lighting is not a legal requirement as it may not be absolutely crucial to the safety of the workforce within the building. It will depend on what activities are being carried out on the premises.
Emergency escape lighting: this is a legal requirement as it will enable the occupants of a building to safely find their way to the nearest emergency exit when it becomes unsafe for them to remain therein. It should also provide enough illumination for any potentially dangerous tasks to be ceased safely before evacuating. This type of lighting is a requirement of the Regulatory (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and is part of the fire safety provision required for a building.
Emergency escape lighting it split into different types of lighting as below:
- Escape route lighting – this will show any occupants of the building the way to the emergency exit so they can safely leave the building if required to. It should be bright enough that any hazards along the way can be avoided and also that the exits are very obvious to those in a high-pressure situation. It would include fire exit signs which are brightly illuminated and also emergency bulkhead lights.
- Open area lighting – this is the lighting which comes on in larger spaces in order that the building occupants can find their way to the emergency escape route, which would then highlight the nearest exit. It would be required in larger buildings
- High-risk task area lighting – when working in an industry such as manufacturing, there is a high probability that certain processes and machinery would pose a risk if operated in the dark or left unattended at the time of evacuation. Emergency lighting should come into action in these such areas so that the task or process can be discontinued in a safe manner and all staff can evacuate the premises safely.
Commercial Emergency Lighting Testing
Whilst used (hopefully) infrequently, it is absolutely critical that emergency lighting is operational at all times. If it were to fail as well as the main lighting, there could be all manner of problems encountered from injury to the occupants, fatalities and huge damage to machinery and the premises if processes are not appropriately shut down in a timely manner. As such, an essential part of commercial building maintenance is Emergency Light Testing.
It is compulsory for all non-domestic premises, thanks to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that also stipulates what lighting is required in different premises. The government legislation means business owners are obliged to have the right escape signage in place, in order to ensure that employees and customers can safely exit a building in an emergency.
But not only that, but the regulations also state that business owners must properly maintain their emergency lighting, to make sure it is reliable and remains effective in the event of power failure. Therefore, it is essential that your emergency lighting is regularly serviced by a professional.
The need for emergency lighting varies, depending on the size and purpose of the property, but no matter what type you have in place, it will need to be checked over each month and given a full duration test once a year – this is where we come in.
At Hexo Services, we offer comprehensive Emergency Light Testing for businesses across London and the South East, covering everything from hotels and shops, to factories and schools.
Your emergency lighting needs to be examined by an expert on a monthly basis. We can carry out a systematic investigation to check all emergency lighting is functioning correctly. For this, mains power will be turned off and lighting checked for clarity.
This test will highlight any emergency equipment that doesn’t light up when the mains power is off. We will also examine all equipment for signs of disrepair – and once power is back on, we will take another look to make sure each sign is charging. We will also maintain a log our inspection results, so you can keep track of any issues or necessary repairs. It is imperative that repairs are actioned immediately as it is likely you would be in breach of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which not only poses legal risks to your business, ineffective emergency lighting also poses a very real danger to the health and safety of any building occupants.
As well as carrying out monthly tests, it is vital that your emergency lighting is given a thorough duration test once a year, to ensure each emergency light remains clear and bright for the correct amount of time. As a general rule of thumb, three hours will allow enough time for everyone to clear the building.
This thorough assessment can be carried out at a time that suits you and your business, whether it is staggered or takes place outside of working hours. At Hexo Services, we work around you, fixing any issues and providing you with legal documentation, to keep your emergency lighting in perfect condition.
During our visit, we will examine your installations and make sure everything is working as it should be. We will look at all of the following:
- Exit doors
- Escape routes
- Intersection of corridors
- Outside each final exit and on external escape routes
- Emergency escape signs
- Stairways (so that each flight receives adequate lighting)
- Changes in floor level
- Windowless rooms and toilet accommodation exceeding 8m²
- Fire-fighting equipment
- Fire alarm call points
- Equipment that would need to be shut down in an emergency
- Areas greater than 60m²
Given the importance of the emergency lighting, and the severity of the issues it could cause if it does not work as expected when required, at Hexo Services we would not recommend self-testing. We can be extremely flexible to minimise disruption to your workforce and business function but this your testing and service need to be carried out thoroughly with every issue documented in full so it can be rectified.
Our Emergency Light Testing service will highlight any concerns or defects that need to be rectified, so that you can keep your property, employees and customers safe. Under our complete Emergency Light Testing service, which will ensure your system is BS 5266 compliant (ode of practice for the emergency lighting of premises), we can provide annual inspections and duration testing, as well as monthly examinations and ad-hoc checks, no matter what the size or purpose of your business.
What standards must be upheld?
There are certain regulatory requirements which must be adhered to in order to ensure your commercial premises are properly protected with emergency escape lighting. These are:
Guidance – this comes in the form of the BS 5266-1 Code of practice for emergency lighting of premises which gives general information and rules as to how emergency lighting should be installed and operate in commercial premises
System standards – the emergency lighting in your commercial premises must adhere to BS EN 1838 Lighting Applications – emergency lighting. This states the level of illumination that must be provided including duration, colour and luminance. Also, the BS EN 50172 / BS 5266-8 Emergency escape lighting systems standard specifies the testing requirements for the emergency lighting in different premises
Government legislation – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) stipulates what emergency escape lighting is required in the different types of non-domestic property and communal areas of houses of multiple occupations (HMOs). There are several guides available as part of the RRFSO which detail the individual requirements.