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Emergency Lighting – British Standard revision

The British Standard for emergency lighting has been updated, creating a new category of “safety lighting”. But for the responsible person, an individual risk assessment will always be vital, writes Ian Watts.

When reviewing a building’s fire strategy, emergency lighting will be a consideration for most dutyholders. In 2016, BS 5266 was revised to bring it more closely in line with European Standard 1838, Lighting applications, emergency lighting. These vital standards have been developed by a range of experts in order to ensure best practice. Although standards are not laws, they are viewed as best practice and meeting them could be deemed to constitute compliance with the RRFSO.

Following the update, there is now a new category of emergency lighting called “emergency safety lighting”. This category was created after questions were raised over what would happen in an emergency situation where the main electrical supply failed, should occupants remain in the premises; for instance, in a healthcare setting.

The new revision gives recommendations and guidance on the factors that need to be taken into account in the design, installation and wiring of emergency safety lighting, to provide the lighting performance needed for the safety of occupants in the event of a lighting failure. In “high risk” task areas, the illuminance should not be less than 10% of the average normal lighting at the location of the risk. The definition of high risk areas, previously set out in BS EN 1838, is now included in BS 5266-1.

The revision also clarifies other questions, such as guidance on emergency lighting to compensate for the increased risks resulting from high levels of occupancy; lighting in underground or windowless rooms; rooms with an escape route passing through them; or those where there is equipment that needs to be switched off before leaving.

Other points that now align with BS EN 1838 include the illumination of escape equipment for disabled people, as well as refuges and disabled call points.

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