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Emergency Lighting & Fire Safety

It is a legal requirement for any public building to have an emergency lighting system and there are clear guidelines provided by The British Standard (BS 5266-1:2011). Employers who fail to maintain their buildings to this standard can find themselves facing criminal charges. However, while this standard recommends the type and duration of the system in relation to a category of premises they are the minimum safety standards and higher standards may be required.

Most new buildings have emergency lighting systems installed during construction in accordance with current Building Regulations and Local Authority requirements. When undertaking building works on existing premises or building new premises, you must also make sure you comply with these Building Regulations, including designing fire safety into the proposed new build or extension.

Due to the age of the UK’s commercial building stock as many as 80% of emergency lighting systems are still examined and tested manually. A monthly functional test must be undertaken and then a full duration test yearly. While this system works, manual testing is not failproof and there are now advanced lighting control systems available on the market which allow for automatic testing. Making the upgrade to one of these systems or considering them when working on existing premises or new builds can help to eliminate the risk of any emergency lighting system failure going undetected and also removes the risk from human error. It also offers reassurance that the emergency lighting system is fully operational and will do its job should there be an emergency.

Whose responsibility is Fire Safety in the workplace?

You are responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises if you are:

*an employer

*the owner

*the landlord

*an occupier

*anyone else with control of the premises e.g. a Facilities Manager, Building Manager, Managing Agent or Risk Assessor

What are my responsibilities?

*to carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly

*to tell staff or their representatives about the risks you have identified

*to put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures

*to plan for an emergency

*to provide staff with information, fire safety instruction and training

For more information on Fire Safety visit the HSE website here or to discuss an upgrade of your emergency lighting system, please click here to get in touch.

Sources:

Testing times for emergency lighting (MBS – Modern Building Services Magazine July 2016)

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