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Failing to maintain emergency lighting

BY Lee Craig
Health & Safety

One of the most common issues we find when we visit premises to carry out fire risk assessments is faulty, defective, unmaintained emergency lighting with no programme for regular testing and servicing.

Aberdeen Market discovered this to their cost following the death of an 80 year old man who was discovered at the bottom of a fire escape stairwell.

The investigation found that poor lighting was the primary cause of the accident that resulted in the death and that the market had “failed to maintain the lighting in the stairwell”.  They were prosecuted over a contravention of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and fined £80,000.

Emergency lighting should be included in escape routes, open areas and high-risk task areas as follows:

Escape Routes: identified the escape route and keeps it sufficiently lit, this includes illuminated fire exit signs and emergency lighting bulkhead.


   Illuminated Escape Sign           


  Emergency Light Bulkhead

Open Areas: ensures that there is sufficient lighting to allow occupants of a building to reach a place where an escape route can be identified.

High Risk Task Area: provides illumination for the safety of people involved in a potentially dangerous process and enables safe shut down of dangerous processes and the safety of operators and others.

Emergency lighting units, whether standalone self-contained units or part of a central battery system, should be tested at least monthly and subject to an annual service to ensure that they are operating effectively.

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