Emergency lighting changes: no reason to panic (part 1)

Category: Lighting
Emergency lighting changes: no reason to panic (part 1)

Recent revisions to the emergency lighting requirement in the UK shouldn’t be a cause for consternation – but do mean that facilities managers need to carefully review their current installations. In the first of a two-part overview, Greenlite’s In-House Lighting Designer Andrew Balmer looks in detail at the latest measures.

The need for commercial spaces of all shapes and sizes to undertake regular reviews of their emergency lighting should, in all honesty, require little explanation. As well as guaranteeing the safety and comfort of their personnel, there is also the fact that even seemingly minor compliance failures can result in substantial penalties.

But if you havent paid the subject too much thought lately, the recent changes to the relevant BS5266 standards – designed to bring them into line with the European emergency lighting luminous requirement specification standard, BS EN 1838:2013 – should be sufficient to prompt a thorough review.

The revision expands the scope of the existing standard in several key ways, not least in its extension to cover high-risk task lighting – in other words, providing illumination for the safety of people involved in potentially dangerous processes or situations, and enabling proper shut-down procedures for the safety of the operator and other occupants of the premises.

There are also a number of additions that have potentially far-reaching consequences for the design of new systems, or the refurbishment of existing ones. Among other areas, these include guidance on the implementation of requirements and solutions, particularly with regard to suitability and energy usage, as well as advice on planning schemes for required equipment. There is also guidance about several specific types of building space, such as swimming pools and open balcony entrance areas in apartment blocks.

Above all, there is a heightened emphasis on the responsibilities that facilities managers and building owners must bear in ensuring that emergency lighting is deployed and utilised effectively. Accordingly, the new version highlights that risk assessments are needed for all premises and should identify the risks to people entering a premises, and that the assessor must ensure that safe means of escape – taking into account the needs of people with disabilities including visual impairment – are in place.

While the new version of the regulations does offer plenty of food for thought, there is no reason why facilities managers cant ensure compliance with a bit of careful thought and action. And in the second part of this overview, I’ll provide some pointers for doing just that.

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