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How Often Should Emergency Lighting Systems Be Tested And Maintained?

What’s the use of having an emergency lighting system if it doesn’t perform when you need it most? These lights could mean the difference between everyone safely exiting the building during an emergency and disaster so having them fully functional is a must.


For your business or commercial premises to remain safe and compliant with the law, you must regularly test the batteries in your emergency lighting system. But how often does this need to be done and who needs to complete the checks?

Why Is Emergency Lighting Testing And Maintenance So Important?

Before I start talking about the different types of tests you need to perform on your emergency lighting, I’d like to spend a few moments looking at why this is such an important habit to get into.


For starters, in the event of an emergency, people need to be able to navigate their way out of the building as quickly as possible. In situations where there’s not much natural light or it’s dark outside, this could lead to a serious reduction in visibility within the building.


In emergencies like fires, where there is also a loss of visibility due to smoke, a lack of appropriate lighting would certainly impede people’s ability to find their way out safely.


The worst-case scenario here is that people become trapped in the building and face a serious risk of injury or death. That’s not something that any business owner wants for their employees or visitors.


What’s more, it is the law in the UK that all business and commercial properties have a functional emergency lighting system. If you want to remain compliant with the law and uphold your reputation as a responsible business then regular checks on your emergency lighting are a must.

Different Emergency Lighting Tests And Their Frequencies

One of the main components of your emergency lighting that may fail is the battery (or batteries if you are using a self-contained system) so these need to be checked on a regular basis. The lights themselves may need to be replaced but the new LED style fixtures typically have a lifespan of up to ten years.

Annual Professional Check

Each year, you should employ the services of a qualified electrician who will come to your premises and test your emergency lighting system for faults.

If any problems are discovered, your electrician will also be able to perform any necessary work to get your system up to scratch.

This annual check must be carried out by a competent person because the very nature of the work is something that only a skilled professional can take on.

Annual Battery Check

While your annual professional check is one thing, there are still other important tests that you’ll need to carry out yourself and these are very simple and easy to do.


Each year, it is recommended that you perform a full battery check of your emergency lighting system to ensure that the battery is still performing at full capacity.


Most emergency lights are designed to provide three hours of illumination but, over time, their performance may deteriorate.


This means that once a year you’ll need to activate the system and allow it to run for three hours. If the lights go out before the time is up, this could indicate an issue with the battery and you’ll need to consult your electrician who will be able to identify and fix the problem.


Do keep in mind that there are some emergency lighting systems whose operation time differs from the standard three hours. Some systems are only designed to run for an hour or ninety minutes so be sure to check your capacity of yours before completing the test.

Monthly Battery Check

Each month it is essential that you activate your emergency lighting system to make sure that it will come on in the event of an emergency.


Depending on the type of system you have, you may need to power off the mains supply for it to activate.


However, some systems have switches on the individual units. In this case, you only need to flip the test switch for this check.


Again, if there are any problems with the lights illuminating then you will need to have a qualified person come out and check the system, making any necessary repairs.

The Legal Stuff

In the United Kingdom, it is required by law that all business and commercial premises have an emergency lighting system installed.


Now, it’s all well and good being able to say that you have the system in place but that doesn’t mean you won’t be penalised if it isn’t working and you haven’t checked it.


As part of your responsibility to those who visit or work in your building, you are obligated to make sure that your emergency lighting is fully functional. This means carrying out the tests that I have talked about in this guide regularly and recording the results.


If you have tested the system and kept a record of your findings as well as had any repairs or remedial work carried out, you have done everything you can to ensure a safe environment. If the system fails, your back is covered.


However, if you fail to test the lighting system and it fails to activate during an emergency, this could lead to prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the Building Regulations 2006 and the Workplace Directive and British Standard BS5266 laws.

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