Emergency Lighting Compliance

Emergency lighting is now, more than ever, a key business compliance agenda item.

Emergency lighting compliance is essential for corporate governance which not only requires the emergency lighting test regime to be undertaken but just as importantly the logging and maintenance of the test information.

Research has shown that a significant number of businesses do not have a formal test regime with even fewer having adequate test regime records.

Government legislation, concerning emergency lighting monitoring and enforcement, will intensify together with fines and the potential for custodial sentences.

Research has identified a number of concerning facts in respect of business attitude to emergency lighting.

  • Over 50% of emergency lighting designs will not work in an incident.
  • Over half of businesses are failing to keep their safety systems up to date following an internal refurbishment.
  • 75% of business managers regard emergency lighting as a tick box exercise.
  • 55% of business managers are more concerned about the initial cost of emergency lighting rather than the ongoing cost of operating and maintaining the system.

Business owners seem to regard emergency lighting as an install and forget system.

These facts are compounded by the lighting design process utilised by lighting manufacturers.

Lighting manufacturers emergency lighting designs are generally based on providing a minimum, compliant, lux level when the lighting system is in emergency mode. However, this does not fully comply with BS5266.

BS5266 requires fire extinguishers, call points, defibrillators and escape equipment to be illuminated to 5 lux minimum. In addition, the area(s) where the fire alarm panel is located and where the emergency services will assemble must be illuminated to 15 lux minimum.

Lighting manufacturers assert key information to enable BS5266 compliance, lighting designs, is not made available by the client or contractor. While this may be true failure to install a compliant emergency lighting scheme will leave the client exposed to potential fines and the possibility of a custodial sentence.

Below are a few examples of fines that have been issued.

  • A hotel owner was fined £200,000, given a four month jail sentence and suspended for 18 months, for an inadequate emergency lighting and fire detection system.
  • A business partner of a small hotel was individually fined £11,500 for failing to provide adequate emergency lighting provision.
  • The owner of an apartment complex was fined £22,000 for failing to have an adequate emergency lighting test regime in place.
  • A letting agency was fined £100,000 for failing to act on their risk assessment.

The last example raises a very important point. All businesses are required to conduct a risk assessment, as part of duty of care legislation. The integrity and monitoring of the emergency lighting system is a key element of any risk assessment.

As a professional business, understanding of emergency lighting regulations not only enables you to convey lighting expertise and knowledge to your clients; there is also a business opportunity.

I recently completed a two floor commercial office, 235 emergency lighting luminaires were required to provide the minimum lux level. An additional 75 (32%) luminaires were required to comply with BS5266.

If you require additional information on this subject, or would like to discuss a specific project, please feel free to contact myself, Dave Tilley at Lightology, or Barry Nokes at Smith Bros.