Does your workplace have emergency lighting? If not, should it? Here’s what you need to know about emergency lighting.
Emergency lighting is lighting that comes on automatically in the event of a mains power failure to help people evacuate the building. Emergency lighting is an important safety measure that can save lives in an emergency.
Do I need emergency lighting in my business?
All commercial premises (including residential premises used for commercial purposes) need emergency lighting. It’s a requirement under the Building Code of Australia (BCA). It’s also a requirement that you have specified exit lighting in place.
What is the difference between emergency lighting and exit lighting?
Both emergency lighting and exit lighting have a role to play in helping people within the building evacuate safely in the event of an emergency. Emergency lighting comes on (or stays on) if the power fails and should stay illuminated for 90 minutes on battery power. This lighting is found at regular intervals throughout the building so no matter where someone is in the building, they can find their way to an exit in the event of a power failure.
Many emergency lights in commercial buildings only come on in the event of an emergency, but there are some emergency lights (generally batten lights) such as those found in carparks and fire stairs which are illuminated all the time and revert to battery power in the event of a power failure.
Exit lighting (green and white signs with a figure running) is illuminated all the time and is found at all exits from the building, including fire exits. These signs are always on so that people can find their way to an exit, no matter the circumstances.
How do I know if my emergency lighting is working?
There’s no way of knowing if your emergency and exit lighting are working unless you get it tested. Your emergency lighting could be illuminated when the power is on, but that’s no guarantee that it’s going to work in a power failure. Your emergency and exit lighting need to be tested every six months to ensure that the batteries in each light are working and will last for 90 minutes in an emergency.
How do I test my emergency and exit lighting?
Testing emergency and exit lighting isn’t something that you can do yourself. Testing of your emergency lighting must be conducted every six months by a suitably qualified person as defined by the safety standard AS2293. Your testing specialist will test the battery in the unit to ensure that it is fully charged and that the connections are sound. These checks are to ensure that your lighting will work for 90 minutes without mains power to allow safe evacuation of the building.
As part of the compliance required under the safety standard, your testing specialist will also complete a log to maintain a register of when your safety lighting has been tested.
Jim’s Test & Tag are specialists in electrical safety testing and can test all your emergency and exit lighting according to the guidelines outlined in the safety standard. They can also advise on lights that may need replacing.
Emergency lights don’t replace fire drills and evacuation procedures
Having emergency and exit lights in place doesn’t automatically mean that people in the building will know what to do in the event of an emergency. Emergencies such as fires in the building are stressful situations and people panic. That’s why it’s important that you conduct regular fire drills in the building so the people understand the correct evacuation procedures, they know where their closest exit is, they know where the external meeting point is and they also know where fire protection equipment is stored in the building. Don’t forget to nominate a fire warden (or two) for each area of your business who can coordinate an evacuation if one is needed.
What fire safety equipment do I need to have in place?
Emergency and exit lighting is just one part of the overall safety processes and equipment that you should have in place in your business or commercial premises.
Emergency and exit lighting are particularly important in the event of a fire as they can help guide people to the exits in low visibility. But you should also have other fire protection equipment in place including fire extinguishers, fire blankets, smoke alarms, and possibly fire hose reels.
There are six different types of portable fire extinguishers used in Australia including water, wet chemical, foam, powder, carbon dioxide and vaporizing liquid. The appropriate type of fire extinguisher for your business will depend on the type of business that you operate. Consult a fire safety equipment expert such as Jim’s Fire Safety for advice on the fire extinguishers that you should have in place in your business.
You should have a fire blanket’ in place near every kitchen on commercial premises. Fire blankets are used to smother a kitchen fire and can be very effective (if used correctly) at preventing kitchen fires from spreading into the wider premises.
Even if your fire blanket hasn’t been used, it needs to be checked regularly. Your fire safety expert can perform fire blanket testing for you.
Fire Hose Reels
Fire hose reels provide water within premises in the event of a fire. Generally, they require an internal hydrant to operate and are only required for larger buildings and businesses. Your fire safety expert will be able to advise if you need a fire hose reel in your building.
Fire equipment needs to be tested regularly
Just as with your emergency lighting and exit lighting, fire safety equipment needs to be regularly tested. Fire extinguishers need to be tested every six months with more thorough testing happening annually and on a five-year basis. Once your fire extinguishers have been tested, they should be tagged to indicate when they were tested and when the next test is due.