Exit signs and emergency lighting both play a crucial role in supporting your business or customers in any public or commercial building during emergencies.
There are laws in place about emergency exits, their corresponding emergency signs, and emergency lighting.
You should make sure you are always compliant, not just to abide by the law, but to ensure the safety of your workers, visitors, guests, and patrons.
This week, we take a closer look at emergency and exit lighting and signage, helping you to understand the various signs available and how you can ensure your site remains compliant and safe.
What is emergency and exit lighting?
You may not realise it, but the building you work in and the shopping centre you regularly visit both have emergency lighting.
It is required under Australian Standard AS2293 that you have emergency lighting and fire exit signs installed in any commercial buildings that you own.
Emergency lighting will only turn on in any power outage, so there may not be a cause for alarm when the emergency lighting goes on. But all instances should be taken seriously just in case.
On the flip side, since they will only turn on when there is a power outage, not all emergencies will necessarily trigger them.
Emergencies that may trigger a power outage include:
- Wild weather such as rain and thunderstorms
- Accident in the building, e.g. a damaged roof
- Overloaded or faulty power circuits
What is an emergency exit sign?
Exit signs or emergency signs are the green, luminous signs that are usually fixed from ceilings or on door frames in public buildings.
They need to be strikingly obvious so that anybody in the building can see them from any room in the case of an emergency – including blackouts.
Emergency exit signs are strictly required in public buildings under the AS2293 standard.
When the power goes out you need to be able to see exit signs clearly and be able to see your way out of the building.
This needs to happen even during the day, as buildings – particularly shopping centres that don’t have many windows – can be surprisingly dark when the regular power shuts off.
There are three different types of lighting configurations in exit signs:
- Sustained lights have two lamps in them and only one lamp works at any one time
- Non-maintained lights are non-illuminated in regular circumstances and are constantly on charge, and only illuminate
when the power has failed
- Maintained lights have only one lamp which is illuminated at all times
Do exit signs need to be on a dedicated circuit?
Both emergency lighting and safety signs in Australia have alternative streams of 240 volt electricity, such as from large batteries. This is because they need to continue to run when the power gets cut.
They will generally use the regular electricity when the power is standard and switch over to the alternative stream when the main power source is unexpectedly cut.
What are the legal requirements for emergency lighting?
The Australian standards also outline how often emergency lighting and exit signs need to be inspected.
Every six months, emergency lighting and exit signs need to be tested to see that they can turn on with no electricity for at least 90 minutes.
There are three types of tests you can do:
During a manual test, a professional contractor will turn the power off from your switchboard and see if the lights and signs remain illuminated for at least 90 minutes.
Self-testing or automatic test
Some systems can be tested manually where the lights and signs are wired to a test timer that tests itself every six months.
A lighting contractor should still be present to verify that the test was successful and to test the tubes and bulbs of your system to ensure all is in correct working order.
Computer monitored system
During a computer test, you can schedule an appointment and the system will test itself virtually. The result will be accessible through a cloud-based digital system. A contractor does not have to be on site for this test.
Where do fire exits need to go?
Fire exits are generally located throughout the centre of multistory buildings like universities or apartment buildings.
All the doors leading to the fire escape should not be locked or have anything blocking them on either side. Not complying to this can lead to penalties, even when there is no emergency.
The purpose of fire exits is to prevent people using the elevator as these are often weak spots that may malfunction during an emergency such as a fire. A fire exit encourages patrons to make their way safely out of a building using the stairs.
You should have enough exit signs to be seen at any angle of every floor.
Where can I purchase exit signs from?
Signsmart has a range of fire exit, emergency exit, and exit signs to keep your premises safe
Signsmart is a signage company in Melbourne that manufactures and delivers safety signs so you can remain compliant at your workplace or institution wherever you are in Australia.
Got something unique in mind? We offer a custom safety sign maker service; just tell us what you need and we’ll take care of the rest!
No matter how unique or niche your requirements, we can create the right safety sign or Emergency Information Panel for your property.
Shop safety signs online now or get in touch with us for something custom.