Fig 1

Emergency lighting is a hugely important aspect of any building, yet for the most part, it is widely overlooked. Is your building compliant with regulations regarding emergency lighting?

In PART 1 of this series, we introduced emergency lighting by giving an overview of what it comprises.

We’re wrapping up our series on Emergency Lighting by discussing the different types of technologies that exist for emergency lighting systems, the types of lights used and the importance of it in terms of building requirements and legislation.

Types of Emergency Lights Used

Emergency Lighting

This is lighting that is switched on once regular lighting ceases to function due to a power outage. It will allow people to complete their work safely and without panicking when leaving the building. Refer to figure 1.

Anti-panic Lighting

Anti-panic lighting is necessary in an emergency to find one’s bearings, to identify and circumvent obstacles between the workstation and the escape route, and to safely reach the escape route with minimal panic. Refer to figure 2.

Escape Lighting

Evacuation lighting assists a building’s occupants in recognising obstacles and safely using escape routes. It includes both escape route lighting and safety signs that are illuminated pictograms. Refer to figure 3.

Escape Route Lighting

Escape routes are required to be sufficiently illuminated so that one can safely evacuate the building. Refer to figure 4.

Illuminated Safety Signs

Safety signs point to the nearest escape route. High visibility and fast recognition of safety signs to escape routes are of vital importance in emergency situations. Refer to figure 5.

Types of Emergency Lighting


Importance in Terms of Building Regulations etc.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) 85 of 1993 states that:

1. Every employer shall provide emergency lighting in any workplace where no natural light is present for safe evacuation.

Employees require sufficient light to safely evacuate the place of work. The minimum requirement of illuminance which 0.3 lux measured at floor level can be obtained by strategically placing emergency luminaries.

TIP: A Lux is the SI Unit for Illuminance and is equal to one lumen per square metre.

2. There must be an emergency illuminance of at least 20 lux over moving machinery, where dangerous materials are present or where processes are required to be shut down.

These specific areas require “high-risk task area emergency lighting”. The act also states the emergency lighting must last long enough for safe evacuation. An employer can be covered by using either the industry standard one hour duration units for most applications, or the three-hour duration systems for high rise buildings, covered parking areas and life cars.

3. The employer must keep the emergency lighting system in good working order, and it must be tested at least every 3 months.

The emergency luminaires should be SABS approved so that the battery identification and replacement can proceed without the need to consult the original lighting supplier. The battery pack for these emergency luminaries must be easy to replace with the assistance of double-sided tape. The Act also disapproves using directional emergency luminaires for escape routes by imposing strict glare restrictions. Therefore, it is not suitable to position one bright, directional emergency luminaire at one end of a passage.  

SANS 10114: Interior lighting – Part. 2: Emergency Lighting is the specification that provides guidelines for the implementation of emergency lighting systems.

The specification suggests that emergency lighting be situated along the escape route and luminaires are required to be positioned above safety signs, near each first aid post as well as near each piece of firefighting equipment. Fluorescent lamps are usually used for escape routes due to their high lumen efficacy and their good colour rendering at low powers.

The specification also indicates that emergency lighting should be activated in the case of localized failure where such a failure would present a hazard. It also suggests the maximum uniformity ratio of 40:1 for escape route lighting. This is the ratio maximum to minimum illuminance at floor level indicating that it is advisable to have more low output luminaires than few high light output units along the route.

A maximum response time of 15 seconds and a minimum duration of one hour for the battery life is suggested. It is required that the minimum duration should be achieved throughout the battery service life therefore the initial commissioning duration should exceed the stated duration by at least 30%.

For high-risk task area lighting the minimum illumination level of 20 lux is suggested. Three hours of emergency lighting is suggested for lift cars, for any building higher than 10 stores and for shopping malls.

The specification also indicates that the drawings of the installations must be retained on the premises as well as a logbook containing date of commissioning, date of each inspection and test, defects and remedial action, alterations, and tests of duration.

In closing

A responsible building owner must ensure occupants are afforded adequate safety measures in the event of an emergency. Thus, implementing a comprehensive emergency lighting system that is compliant to all required standards is not something to be ignored. Don’t wait until it’s too late, call us for support in ensuring your emergency lighting system is up to scratch!



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