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Do Emergency Lighting Systems Require Specific Compliance With Regulations?

The last thing that you want is to find out that your emergency lighting isn’t working during an emergency. This is another reason that regular testing is vital.


However, during those tests, you may sometimes notice a problem and it’s important to have this fixed as soon as possible. Any remedial work must be carried out by a qualified electrician to be sure that it is up to UK standards.

What Is The UK Law Surrounding Emergency Lighting?

There are five pieces of legislation within UK law that mention emergency lighting. As a business owner, I would like to assume that you are familiar with these laws as they are an integral part of running your business responsibly and in line with the law.


The first one that we need to consider is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This legislation details that the responsible person (that could be a business owner, building manager, employer or anyone else who has responsibility for ensuring a safe workplace) must carry out a fire risk assessment and make any changes necessary to ensure that occupants are protected during a fire.


After this, I’d advise you to look at the British Standard BS 5266-1:2016 legislation which provides business owners with detailed information on how emergency lighting systems should be designed, installed, maintained and tested.


You’ll also need to take the Building Regulations 2010 into account, specifically part B. This tells you that the building must meet certain fire safety standards and this includes an emergency lighting system to be in place.


The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 detail how a business should implement safety for its employees and details that an adequate emergency lighting system should be installed.


Finally, the Health and Safety (Signs, Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 explains that business owners are responsible for providing adequate signage and emergency lighting to ensure the safety of occupants.

What Are My Specific Responsibilities As A Business Owner In The UK Regarding Emergency Lighting?

In the UK, according to the laws that I have talked about above, it is evident that you have a responsibility to provide emergency lighting in your building.


When it comes to specifics, the first thing you’ll need to make sure of is that you have some sort of emergency lighting system in place. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to go all out and have a super advanced system. In fact, regulation state that your system must only include the following:


  • Indication of escape routes
  • Illumination along said escape routes to help people move safely towards the exit
  • Firefighting equipment and fire alarm call points must be illuminated
  • Emergency lighting will permit operations concerned with safety measures


Other things that you should consider include making sure that there are illuminated signs that point towards an exit where the exit sign is not visible from that point and that exit signs must have a green contrast with white. Moreover, that radiance between the white and green must have a ratio between 5:1 and 15:1.


It is also worth keeping in mind that the level of illumination must make the sign visible from a certain distance. It is expected that your externally illuminated emergency exit signs, for example, should have a light within 2 metres of the sign.


In high risk parts of a building, for example, in production areas with a greater risk of danger, emergency lighting must be no lower than 15 lux.

Emergency Lighting Maintenance

Having emergency lighting installed is just the first part of the process when it comes to complying with the law. Once the lighting is installed, you then have a responsibility to test and maintain it on a regular basis to ensure it is functioning as it should.


There are three main tests that should be completed both annually and monthly.


  • An annual check should be carried out by a qualified electrician who will be able to detect and repair any problems with the system.
  • An annual battery check should be carried out either by an electrician or yourself. In this case, you will need to activate the emergency lighting system and allow it to run for its maximum duration (usually three hours). If any of the lights go out before the time is up, this may indicate a problem with the battery which should be inspected and replaced by a professional installed.
  • A monthly battery check should be carried out by yourself whereby you activate the emergency lighting system to ensure that all lights become illuminated. If they do not, this may once again signal a battery issue which should be addressed as promptly as possible.

What Happens If I Don’t Fulfil My Obligations?

It is your responsibility to ensure that your business or commercial premises are fully equipped with an adequate emergency lighting system. If you do not comply with the law, there is a risk that you will receive a fine.


What’s more, in the most severe cases of non-compliance or where an accident, injury or death has occurred because of a lack of compliance, it is possible to receive a custodial sentence for this.


But even with the legalities aside, having an emergency lighting system is a great way to show that you care about the people using your building and in turn, this will benefit the reputation of both yourself and your business.

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