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Emergency Lighting – What you Need for Commercial and Industrial Buildings

Emergency Lighting – What you Need for Commercial and Industrial Buildings

In the UK, provision and good operation of emergency lighting systems are a legal requirement within commercial and industrial buildings.

Emergency lighting, in essence, is lighting that initiates when there is a mains supply failure. Under the “Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, businesses MUST install emergency lighting in their buildings by law. BS EN 1838 specifies escape and standby lighting requirements for their businesses in the event of a power failure. This includes the lux values required. Here are some examples of some:

  • Escape Routes – up to 2m in width need to be illuminated to 1lux in the centre, and equal to or above 50% of that level either side of the centre.
  • Open Areas – 0.5lux or more
  • High-Risk Task Areas – 15lux or more

Emergency lighting illuminates areas that lead people to the nearest fire exit. In an outage, these lights should stay on for one to three hours to ensure that any and all occupants of the building can safely make their way to an exit and that any emergency services attending the emergency are able to access the building safely. Once power to the building is restored, the lights should then recharge.


Where to Place Emergency Lighting?

Where emergency lighting is placed is vitally important, as incorrect placement can lead to dire risks.

Lighting and signs should be placed in a way that clearly informs people of where the nearest fire exit is so that in an emergency they are able to safely exit the premises. Regulations state that you should use an illuminated sign instead of an emergency lighting luminaire when the final exit is not easily identifiable by occupants.

Risk prone areas must also be appropriately illuminated. This includes:

  • Stairwells
  • Places where the floor level changes
  • Toilet areas
  • Intersections in corridors
  • Change sin direction of the escape route

Lighting isn’t required in every area listed above, but all areas should have sufficient lighting for people to navigate their way out of a building in an emergency. Any fire risk assessment will detail areas in your building that you need to provide emergency lighting for.


Different Types of Emergency Lighting

There are four types of emergency lighting such as:

  • Escape route lighting – this type of lighting illuminates escape routes to fire escapes and emergency exits, assisting people in the building in leaving safely.
  • Open area emergency lighting – this is sometimes called “anti-panic” lighting and also assists people when attempting to find an escape from a building in an emergency. These are often installed in open areas to provide enough light in a power failure to escape safely.
  • High-risk task area lighting – some workspaces require carrying out extremely high-risk tasks (such as working with tools or heavy machinery.) High-risk task area lighting must operate in the event of an emergency long enough for workers to cease working, switch machinery or cookers off, put down tools and move to safety.
  • Standby lighting – this type of lighting kicks in when the power goes out. Unlike other types of emergency lighting however, it is not required by law. Typically the power comes from a diesel operated generator and keeps the light son until technicians are able to restore the mains power.


The installation, inspection and maintenance of emergency lighting is one of the many services electrical estimates provides.

So, make safety your priority this 2023!