Exit signage must have specific requirements that must be met and it is a critical aspect of safety and emergency preparedness in any public or commercial building. These unassuming signs serve a vital role in guiding occupants to safety during unexpected events, such as fires, earthquakes, or other emergencies that require swift evacuation. Having compliant exit signage in place is not only a legal requirement in many jurisdictions but also an essential measure to ensure the protection of human life and property. In this short piece, we will explore the significance of adhering to exit sign regulations and the various ways these simple yet indispensable signs contribute to creating a safer environment for everyone.

Fire safety is of utmost importance in South Africa, with stringent regulations in place to protect homes and businesses from potential disasters. According to the Fire Protection Act (SANS 10400: Part T), the country has implemented building regulations to ensure that structures are adequately designed, constructed, and equipped to handle fire emergencies.

The Fire Protection Act mandates several crucial elements:

  1. Protection of building occupants, including disabled individuals.
  2. Minimization of fire spread within and between buildings.
  3. Assurance of structural stability to prevent major failures.
  4. Control and minimization of smoke spread.
  5. Provision of adequate access for detecting, fighting, controlling, and extinguishing fires.
  6. Fire exit signs play a vital role in emergencies, providing clear guidance to occupants. Proper signage is essential for all fire exits and doors, ensuring they remain visible even during power outages.

Exit Signage Display:

Ensure clear indications of alternative exits, including emergency exits and those not commonly used, to inform people about additional ways to leave the premises. Well-signposted exits in full view can also contribute to a sense of security during emergencies. Fire exit signs should be displayed directly above the exit opening whenever possible or choose a position where they are easily visible and least likely to be obstructed by smoke.

In areas where exits might not be readily seen or where obstacles obstruct the view (e.g., warehouses with transit goods), install fire exit signs with directional arrows along the escape route to guide people. In buildings with multiple occupants, a consistent approach to fire safety signs should be adopted to avoid confusion about exit routes. Typically, the building owner is responsible for displaying signs in common areas (e.g., stairways), while individual occupants are responsible for signs within their designated areas.

The ideal height and position for signs should be chosen, considering the line of sight and any potential obstacles. For general hazards, signs should be placed at the access points to an area, while specific hazards or objects should have signs in their immediate vicinity. Additionally, signs should be located in well-lit areas that are easily accessible and visible.

Signage Luminance:

Emergency exit signs can be classified as luminaires or exit signs, and they must meet specific standards such as holding an LOA (Letter of Authority) based on IEC 60598, a set of standards established by the International Electrotechnical Commission. This covers classification, marking, mechanical and electrical construction, and photobiological safety of a luminaire. And possess a positive test report based on the building standards specified in SANS 1464-22, which outlines the safety requirements of emergency light luminaires.

Signage must comply with SANS 1186 – Part 5, to be photoluminescent, meaning it is light emission from any form of matter after the absorption of photons (electromagnetic radiation). This will only apply to signage that is not electronically illuminated.

Maintenance and Visibility of Signs:

To ensure their effectiveness, all signs must be regularly cleaned, checked, repaired, and replaced if needed, retaining their intrinsic and functional qualities. It is crucial to securely fix signs and ensure they are sufficiently large to be easily seen.

Our Services

Cairnmead Industrial Consultants provide you with a unique consulting service in the Health and Safety discipline. We lead through simplicity and realise that safety doesn’t just come through knowledge, but through understanding. We seek to help our clients understand and we translate our vast knowledge and expertise into simple, useable information.

Contact us to find out more:

Christof Lourens

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd

Tel: 012 346 5752 | Email: christof@cairnmead.co.za

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