Is your commercial building prepared for a blackout? You might not be worried about a power failure, but they happen more often than you think. Federal data reveals that power outages result in $150 billion of economic loss every year. In the US, annual blackouts happen more frequently than in any other developed country on the planet.
The latest figures show that of the 3,526 outages, the majority of them, or 438, occurred in California. During these power failures, emergency illumination is a necessity. These systems power exit signs and their pathways, thereby reducing potential hazards to the people inside.
If these numbers aren’t enough to convince you how crucial industrial emergency lighting is, we have four more reasons why these systems should never be overlooked.
1. Emergency Lighting is Mandatory
Emergency lighting is not only a necessity but also required by law.
California Emergency Illumination Code
Commercial properties in California are required to comply with the “Emergency Illumination” code. This law requires commercial buildings to install emergency lighting and egress systems for exit signs and pathways. Additionally, if one of the bulbs fails, this failure may not result in total darkness in part of the building.
National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) Code
The Life Safety Code from the NFPA mandates the following provisions.
- Monthly compliance inspections
- Annual tests for emergency exit and lighting systems
Owners of commercial buildings should conduct both standard and full functionality tests at regular intervals. Always follow the prescribed testing procedures and repair nonfunctional lighting immediately.
International Building Code (IBC)
IBC provides specifications for the installation and maintenance of emergency light systems.
- Corridors, ramps, stairwells, aisles, passageways, escalators, hallways, and other walkways must have emergency lighting.
- Emergency illumination must be functional for a minimum of 90 continuous minutes.
Additionally, the code contains strict compliance guidelines for safety and functionality.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA)
Finally, the OHSA outlines regulations for emergency lighting systems. Working with fire protection contractors ensures compliance and the correct installation of illumination features. At the same time, these contractors can install fire safety features and sprinklers. Most importantly, exit signs and routes must be well-lit and visible during a power outage.
2. Fire Protection Services Can do Their Job
Responders often navigate through smoke and other unfavorable conditions. Emergency lighting is essential for response teams that are unfamiliar with the building. Responders need to locate necessary equipment, avoid obstacles, and provide assistance to those in need.
Emergency illumination ensures that fire protection services and rescue teams can act quickly. These systems also help people inside the building find their way out. The facility manager must ensure that a commercial building is prepared for an emergency. If these systems were to fail, human lives could be at risk.
3. Ensure Employee Safety
Many workers are unable to find their way around the workplace in the dark. Without emergency lighting, employees will have difficulty finding their way out of the building. The risk of tripping on stairs or falling could significantly impair workers’ ability to get to evacuate in an emergency. This situation is likely to spread panic and may result in injuries.
Exit lighting and emergency illumination ensure that workers, visitors, and other occupants can conduct their company’s emergency plan to the best of their ability. Regular tests should take place with staff to ensure they are familiar with essential safety protocols.
4. Lower Insurance Premiums
Keeping commercial buildings up to code with emergency lighting systems can also help you save on insurance premiums. When applying for a new policy or during the renewal, underwriting agents are likely to examine the building’s emergency lighting system. Taking measures toward safety compliance reduces your building’s liability risks. As a result, you may qualify for reduced building coverage premiums.
In contract, if your commercial building doesn’t meet code requirements, insurers ask you to bring the property up to code before a policy can be written. Similarly, failure to perform regular tests by a licensed contractor can result in higher premiums.
Emergency illumination systems are often underappreciated. However, having sufficient lighting in an unforeseen event is crucial for human safety, liability, and legal compliance.