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Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is lighting that operates when there is a mains supply failure. It is a failsafe measure to ensure continued on-site safety and protect the occupants of a building.

What is emergency lighting used for?

Emergency lighting illuminate’s areas that lead occupants to the nearest fire exit. During a failure of a building’s electricity supply, the emergency lights will operate and should remain on for between one and three hours. This is to ensure that all occupants of the building can safely make their way to their nearest exit.

Then, once power is restored to the building, the emergency lights should recharge.

The are four types of emergency lighting

These are:

  • Escape route lighting: Exit route lighting is a type of lighting that illuminates routes to fire escapes and emergency exits and helps occupants to leave the building.
  • Open area emergency lighting: This type of emergency lighting is sometimes called “anti-panic” lighting and assists occupants when trying to find an escape from a building. Organisations install these lights in open areas to provide enough light to be able to escape safely in the event of an emergency or fire.
  • High-risk task area lighting: Some workspaces play host to extremely high-risk tasks (such as working with tools or operating machinery). High-risk task area lighting needs to operate in the event of an emergency to keep them illuminated long enough for workers to cease working, switch machinery or cookers off, put down tools, and move to safety.
  • Standby lighting: This type of lighting kicks in when the power goes out. But unlike the other types of emergency lighting, the law does not require it. Usually, power comes from a diesel generator and keeps the lights on until technicians restore mains power.

Where do you need to place emergency lighting?

Regulations state that you should use an illuminated sign instead of an emergency lighting luminaire when the final exit is not readily identifiable by occupants.

Businesses also need to ensure that they correctly illuminate problem areas. These could include:

  • Stairwells
  • Places where the floor level changes.
  • Toilet areas (greater than 8m2)
  • Intersections in corridors
  • Changes in the direction of the escape route

Responsible Persons do not have to provide lights for every item in this list, but they should ensure that all areas receive sufficient lighting for people to navigate their way out of the building.

Most luminaire manufacturers specify how far apart lighting should be placed to ensure optimal illumination on the premises.

Your fire risk assessment will detail areas in your building that you need to provide emergency lighting for.