Life can be a series of rules and regulations, often feeling as if there are too many risk assessments and procedures to focus on the task at hand. However, without implementing the correct measures, you could be placing individuals at risk and not adhering to regulations.
In 2005 the Fire Regulatory Reform Order was introduced in the UK.
This order handed overall responsibility for the on-going compliance of the emergency lighting scheme to the occupant of the commercial premises, which was previously the responsibility of the fire officer.
Failure to provide and maintain a compliant emergency lighting scheme within commercial premises can result in prosecution and/or fines.
What is emergency lighting?
Emergency lighting is put in place so that when the power supply to ‘normal’ lighting fails, there is sufficient lighting to allow efficient evacuation from a premise.
Power loss to a building can cause panic amongst occupants, resulting in injury and emotional distress. The British Standard guidelines BS:5266 indicate regulations for emergency lighting to assist with the design and installation process. With advances in technology, emergency lighting now offers a range of technologies and features to implement high standards and smart features more regularly seen with general lighting, to provide safety and well-being of building occupants in addition to providing additional benefits.
Smarter devices now offer the advantage of better control, efficient operation and aid in on-going maintenance to improve functionality, usability and the expected lifetime of the product.
Improvement in the technology of emergency lighting gives businesses the opportunity to further progress the safety of their buildings and the protection of their employees and occupants. The advances and developments in LED and wireless technology for emergency lighting again illustrate the continuing importance of this safety feature in the workplace and other buildings, whether commercial or communal residential areas.
Why is emergency lighting so important?
- Offers comfort and safety to occupants in an emergency
- Gives emergency services better visibility
So what risks are involved if emergency lighting isn’t implemented or incorrectly installed?
- Injury or potential fatalities to building occupants
- Prosecution, fines, and imprisonment
- Ineffective evacuation during an emergency leading to panic and stress
Different work areas require different emergency lighting requirements, all of which should be consulted on before building work takes place. These include:
- Escape route lighting: gives people the chance to identify a means of escape, so they can exit the building appropriately
- Emergency escape lighting: allows occupants to leave a building safely and enables people to tackle any danger if required
- High-risk task area lighting: emergency lighting that is implemented in areas where occupants are at higher risk from danger
- Open area lighting: employed to minimize panic and allow occupants the chance to find an appropriate escape route, with minimal anxiety
It’s vital that emergency lighting systems are implemented in the correct areas of a building and adhere to all relevant standards, to ensure that everyone, no matter which part of the premises they work, can escape safely and appropriately. It’s important to carry out a risk assessment when installing any emergency lighting in order to know which areas of the building are at a higher risk of danger so that all procedures are followed correctly and safely.
Emergency lighting is crucial at both the start of an emergency and towards the end. Speed and efficiency will allow many of the occupants to escape unscathed, but a more complicated emergency can cause difficulties. In the UK the emergency lighting duration is dependent upon the premise, with sites such as care homes, student accommodation and hospitals requiring 3 hours emergency output.