There are many reasons why you need to ensure your place of work has effective and well-maintained emergency lighting. One main reason is to ensure staff members and customers can leave your premises in safety during a power failure.
Problems with electrical supply, fire or an act of terrorism can cause the main lighting system to fail. There’s a general duty of care to safeguard people and for some organisations emergency lighting is a legal requirement.
Where to install emergency lighting
Specialist companies can advise business owners and staff members responsible for health and safety where to install emergency lighting systems. Typically lighting is placed where it is most needed to enable people to leave the premises safely, for example by emergency exits, stairwells and steps. This is known as ‘escape route lighting’. Effective lighting is especially important to reduce the likelihood of death or injury, as people can panic in an emergency.
Emergency lighting can also be placed where people work, to help reduce the likelihood of panic. This so-called ‘open area lighting’ lets people easily see the best route to take in an emergency. Psychologically it acts to calm people, but is sufficiently different from standard lighting to ensure that they do leave and are not tempted to carry on working.
You should also install ‘high risk task lighting’ if your company has staff operating dangerous equipment or working in an unsafe environment.
A legal obligation, for some premises
The law requires some organisations to install emergency lighting, as part of their fire safety systems and procedures. These organisations and businesses include colleges, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, clubs, music venues, cinemas, theatres, museums and shops.
Many new buildings include emergency lighting as standard, but experts would still advise doing an audit and ensuring systems are fit for purpose. Companies within older buildings are recommended to have their systems checked and upgraded, if necessary, to meet legal requirements.
Conforming to legal standards
There’s also a legal requirement to conform to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and meet BS 5266-1:2011 standards, which covers the correct positioning of emergency lighting.