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A Guide To The UK Emergency Lighting Regulations

Posted by Paul Tuson on September 3rd , 2021

What Are The UK Emergency Lighting Regulations?

Emergency lighting regulations are an important element of keeping employees and the public safe. The main reason for emergency lighting is escape in the event of a fire, although emergency lights also help with navigation during a power outage. There has seen some important updates to the existing BS 5266-1 regulations. Here’s a quick guide.

Emergency Escape Lighting: Does it Matter?

The laws regarding emergency escape lighting are very stringent. Failure to comply can – and does – result in both fines and imprisonment. One of the most discussed cases is that of Tata Steel, which received a £200k fine following the failure of emergency lighting. Hotel owners are the most likely to be imprisoned if guests are injured during a fire. Responsibility and compliance are therefore crucial.

What Are The Standards?

There are three main standards:

  • BS 5266-1 Code of Practice for the Emergency Lighting of Premises
  • BS EN 60598-2-22 British and European Standard for Emergency Luminaires
  • BS 5499-10 Guidance for the Selection and Use of Safety Signs and Fire Safety Notices

Each of these is subject to regular amendments. This is because there is considerable effort across the EU to standardise all signage, installations, and layouts. This means that companies may need to make changes in order to remain compliant. For instance, any premises in England and Wales that have emergency lighting that was installed prior to 2006 are likely to require urgent upgrades in order to become legal.

What Has Changed Since 2019?

There were two major changes to BS 5266-1: safety lighting and dynamic safety signage systems. These are additions to the escape lighting that most organisations are familiar with, and are designed to react in different ways to different types of emergency.

Safety Lighting

Safety lighting aids building occupants in the event of a power outage. Supply failures can easily become an emergency, especially as – unlike fires - they are not routinely drilled for. Occupants are typically slow to vacate the premises, and there is a general tone of uncertainty. The BS 5266-1 safety lighting amendment ensures the minimum level of light required to prevent trips and falls.

Dynamic Safety Signage Systems DSSS

Dynamic systems embrace digital technology in order to rapidly identify the point of origin of a fire or smoke. The benefit of this is that signage can be used to direct evacuees away from danger. Many fire deaths are caused by people running away from flames and into toxic smoke, especially in tunnels or high buildings. As such, having signs that respond to the environment is a proactive way of providing safe guidance in an emergency. It is likely that advanced DSSS technology will become a basic requirement in the coming years.

Find Out More

Remaining safety compliant is an on-going process that every company needs to keep up-to-date with. The most recent changes are important, and updated installations can ensure that safety is enhanced. To learn more, speak with one of our lighting specialists about the most cost effective means of bringing your premises up to date.

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