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A Guide to BS 5266 Emergency Lighting Regulations

  • by chris basford
A Guide to BS 5266 Emergency Lighting Regulations

Emergency light systems are used to provide illumination in the event of emergencies or power cuts to make sure that people can evacuate a building quickly and safely. BS 5266 is the required UK standard for emergency lights, and it contains the regulations and guidelines to which building owners, architects and engineers need to adhere for safe working environments. In this blog post, we will explore what the BS 5266 regulations contain, what lighting is covered under these regulations, and where these lights need to be situated for the best possible results.

What is the British Standard for Emergency Lighting?

BS 5266 is the British standard for emergency illumination systems that are installed in business premises and workplaces throughout the United Kingdom. The standard covers both escape route and standby lighting systems for offices, factories, schools, hospitals, and public buildings. The BS 5266 standard also specifies the minimum illumination levels required for escape routes and other areas based on factors such as the risk level, the number of occupants and the design of the building.

It provides guidance on the design and installation of emergency lighting systems, including the positioning of lights, backup power supplies (batteries etc.) and control systems. Furthermore, BS 5266 contains the requirements for how often you need to test and maintain emergency light systems so they will always be ready to function when needed. Buildings in the UK are required to comply with the BS 5266 standard as part of key building regulations and fire safety regulations to ensure the safety of occupants in case of emergencies.


What Are the Different Types of Emergency Lights?

The BS 5266 standard separates the various different types of lighting into categories depending on what they are used for and their operational requirements.

  • Standby Lighting: This is used in areas where essential lighting needs to be maintained during an emergency or power cut to prevent people from panicking and to allow for the safe shutdown of machinery. Standby lighting can be used in control rooms, important work areas and other spaces in the workplace where darkness could cause risks or the potential for injury.
  • Emergency Escape Route Lighting: Escape route lighting provides essential lighting throughout fire escape routes such as stairways, corridors, and doorways. It can also be used to illuminate large areas, including halls and designated assembly areas, to help people leave a building safely.
  • Escape Sign Lighting: These lights are used to illuminate emergency escape signs and they often include up, down, left, or right arrows to show the occupants of a building the correct way to leave safely. In sudden darkness, this is an essential means by which to help people identify and navigate to the nearest exit.

  • High Risk Lighting: This lighting is used in high risk locations where, for example, heavy machinery is used or hazardous processes are carried out. High risk emergency lighting can ensure that workers can still see to shut down dangerous machinery which can stop accidents occurring.
  • Anti Panic Lighting: This can be used in large spaces such as halls, gyms, or canteens to stop people from panicking if the lights suddenly go out. If people remain calm, they are more likely to identify their escape routes safely and leave quickly.

Where Do Emergency Lights Need to be Placed?

A key component of BS 5266 is the correct placement of emergency lights. This is a major part of complying with the fire regulation requirements for workplaces. Lights need to be placed in the following locations:

  • Fire Alarm Points: Lights must be used to illuminate fire alarm call locations so people can easily find them in an emergency.
  • Exit Signs: The BS 5266 regulations state that emergency exit signs must be properly placed, illuminated appropriately and easy to recognise to help people evacuate buildings quickly and safely.
  • Escape Routes: Emergency illumination needs to be placed along escape routes such as stairways, corridors, hallways and exit doors. The lights also need to be bright enough and positioned correctly so that people can safely move to the nearest exit.

Number of Lights

How many emergency lights you need in your business premises is determined through a risk assessment by a qualified fire risk assessor. It is usually dependent on the size of the building, the layout of the building and how many people occupy it.

Escape Route Issues

BS 5266 also states that if there are any changes in direction or changes in the flooring level in the escape route, these must be lit by emergency lighting to avoid anyone tripping or falling. This also applies where escape routes intersect as people need to know which way to go to reach the nearest exit.

Regular Testing

The BS 5266 standard also requires there to be regular testing of all the lighting systems to ensure they are reliable and functioning as they should. Monthly testing should take place alongside an annual full test of all systems and any issues should be reported and rectified. Keeping up to date documentation of the installation, maintenance and testing of your emergency system is also required in order to comply with BS 5266. You must adhere to these rules to guarantee the safety of your workplace and to avoid any legal consequences.

Should you require further guidance or assistance in selecting the appropriate emergency lights for your workplace, please don't hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts at LightHub Direct are well-versed in the latest regulations and can help you find the best emergency lighting solution for your specific needs. From emergency bulkheads and batten lights to fire exit and car park lights, our comprehensive range of emergency lights has everything you need for your building. Don't compromise on safety – trust us to provide you with top-quality emergency lighting that meet all necessary standards and requirements.

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