Make sure you check emergency lighting when you reopen
Posted on 18th August 2020
Now that many businesses are re-opening offices, shops and other buildings it’s important to remember emergency lighting maintenance.
When a building has been empty for weeks or months the batteries or backup power for all types of emergency lighting bulkheads or LEDs and exit signs need to be fully checked
While businesses are keen to reopen after lockdown it’s important to make sure building maintenance, inspection and testing are properly completed to meet health and safety requirements and to be confident that everything is safe and ready for people to return.
What could go wrong with emergency lighting?
When properties are unoccupied for a long period emergency lighting could be compromised. If the mains power has been turned off or there has been a power failure, it’s possible that the emergency lighting batteries or battery backup will have discharged themselves.
That’s why all battery-powered emergency lights need to be checked, recharged and inspected to confirm they are working as they should.
There are many different battery technologies for emergency lighting products; some can take 24 hours to fully recharge while others take a minimum of 12 hours.
Generally, to be sure everything is working properly the system should be tested outside normal working hours until all the batteries are flat (discharge testing). Then they should be fully recharged, so it’s important to leave enough time for proper testing.
Testing your emergency lights
Simulating mains power failure of your building’s normal lighting is the best approach to force the emergency lighting system to operate via the battery supply. This can be done manually or automatically.
Manual testing - you can simulate a mains failure by installing a switch to isolate all the lighting circuits or you can have switches for individual circuits or lights.
If you use a single switch, you will need to walk around the whole building to make sure that all the emergency lighting is working. Then, after restoring the mains supply, you’ll need to check again to make sure that the emergency lights are recharging. If you choose individual switches, they should be tamper-proof.
Automatic testing - alternatively you can install self-testing emergency lighting for monthly and annual testing.
About emergency lighting testing
There are standards for emergency lighting systems, depending on the type of building, and for servicing.
A competent person needs to be responsible for regular servicing of your building’s emergency lighting, making sure that any work needed is carried out and that the system works properly.
Daily - for emergency lighting systems with a central back-up battery the indicators on the central power supply should be inspected every day to confirm that the system is operating properly.
Monthly - all emergency lighting systems should be tested monthly with a simulated power failure.
Annually - a test for the full rated duration of the emergency lights (for example, three hours) is needed each year. The emergency lights must still be working at the end of this test.
Get in touch if you want to know more about emergency lighting installations.
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