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Shedding light

24 May 2018

Ian Watts explains the most recent changes to BS 5266-1 and how the updated standard will impact the life safety industry and those working within it.

THE BRITISH Standards Institution (BSI) BS 5266-1 Emergency Lighting Code of Practice (CoP) provides essential guidance on emergency lighting systems for building owners and those responsible for life safety. 

In 2016, the BSI made several updates to BS 5266-1, which builds on the key factors in the existing standard. The updates also bring BS 5266-1 in-line with associated UK and European regulations. Looking at the changes in more detail, we can see how they may affect those working across the industry.

Under the latest life safety legislation in the UK and Europe, BS 5266-1 is no longer a prescriptive requirement. However, compliance to BS 5266-1 is the easiest way the responsible person for a given building can demonstrate to auditing authorities that adequate safety precautions are in place. By complying with the standard, building owners can prove that certified EN 60598:2.22 emergency lighting has been used. Part of the process for the responsible person is to ensure that a building’s written risk assessment is kept up to date, in line with government guidelines which state a review should be made at least annually. 

Testing and maintenance 

It is a requirement that emergency lighting systems are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure they are in full working order at all times. The recent changes to BS 5266-1 strongly recommend the use of automatic testing to assist and support the user in their task to provide the required monthly function test and annual full rated discharge.  

Even if automatic testing systems are applied, there is a duty of care for the engineer to check the power supply of luminaires and clean each lamp to make sure it provides the recommended lux levels. For older or pre-existing fluorescent installations, individual luminaries should be replaced once their ‘black ending’ reaches a point where it might compromise lamp output. 

Other changes to BS 5266-1 detail that any tests to emergency lighting systems must be carried out during a period of low risk, or while the building is empty. This helps to minimise disruption for building occupants and ensures work can be carried out with greater efficiency. 

Building managers should also consider testing alternate luminaires over a 24-hour period to make sure the building’s evacuation system is fully functional. To ensure overall system performance is not compromised, it is also important that systems are tested for their full rated duration to certify that they meet specified requirements. The simplest way to achieve this is to incorporate a certified EN 62034 testing system. These systems reduce the, sometimes impractical, implications of testing, while helping to ensure occupant safety. 

System repairs

As well as regular maintenance, a qualified engineer must be appointed to correct any faults in the system in accordance with BS 5266-1. In these instances, it is recommended that alternative procedures are put in place to safeguard building occupants. These steps could include running extra safety patrols, placing additional light sources in affected areas and limiting access where required. 

The changes to BS 5266-1 also note that the building’s responsible person has to decide when, and what, action must be taken to inform building occupants of any repairs. Possible measures include warning building users to be extra vigilant for the duration of the repairs, initiating safety patrols, issuing torches in the affected areas or limiting access altogether. 

The update to BS 5266-1 now recognises a wider range of lighting categories, extending the standard to cover occupants who remain inside a building during a mains supply failure. In these instances, an agreed “risk assessed” level of emergency safety lighting must be provided.  The duration of this light level must then be measured against capacity, and a suitable warning or control made available to then revert to escape lighting when required.

Also, there are now additional requirements referred to as the “room within a room principle”. If your building has this type of area then the outer room, even if less than 60m2, it will now require illumination. 

High risk areas

Some premises such as hospitals and loading bays play host to a number of hazardous procedures on a daily basis. In line with the changes to BS 5266-1, such procedures should have an automatic shut-down function should an emergency occur. In this instance, lux values of 10 per cent of the mains lighting level taken as an average, or 15 lux – whichever figure is greater – should be employed within 0.5 seconds to minimise potential risk to occupants.

Building owners and facilities managers are already required, by law, to keep documents such as log books to keep track of their emergency lighting equipment. However, the updates to BS 5266-1 take this further, and now include additional requirements with regards to documentation, such as filling out log books and carrying out inspections. These auditable documents are listed at the back of the standard and are available without copywrite to enable users to complete with the support of competent engineers. The standard also includes additional recommendations on a broader range of topics including applying emergency lighting systems, classifications and calculating illuminance measurements to further assist building owners in meeting the new requirements.

Technology is constantly advancing, and as a manufacturer of life safety solutions, we must ensure that our products protect building occupants both now and well into the future. By educating those involved in all aspects of a building development, from specification through to installation and aftercare, about the latest technology, we can ensure that the spaces we live, and work in are fitted with the most effective life safety systems possible.

Webinars are one of a number of ways we can spread important information that the responsible person needs to know. In November 2017, Hochiki Europe carried out a webinar detailing the recent changes to BS 5266-1, answering questions from professionals across the construction industry. The session, which was attended by more than 100 professionals, covered key points of interest from the updated standard and gave advice on introducing the changes to the maintenance and protection of buildings and their occupants. We’re planning to run similar sessions over the next year to help spread awareness of the implications of the update. 

Legislation and regulation is ever-changing, and for building managers, ensuring life safety systems are compliant can seem like a difficult task. However, by keeping up to date with changes to key industry standards, building owners can more effectively implement and maintain emergency lighting solutions across their premises. To support them, manufacturers must continue to offer guidance and insight on new legislation affecting the industry, ensuring that occupant safety remains uncompromised throughout the built environment.

Ian Watts is emergency lighting manager at Hochiki Europe. For more information, visit www.hochikieurope.com