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Do emergency exit signs always have to be lit?

Q: We have four emergency exit signs at the exit points of our office and workshop areas. Two of the signs are pictures of a person running out of the building and two are simply the word ‘Exit’. Only one of our signs is constantly lit up.

What are our obligations in relation to these signs? Do they all need to be constantly lit up? Also, do they all need to be the same logo? From what I have read, exit signs have been replaced with signs showing a person running out a door.

A: Safety signs form an integral component of any safety management system. The purpose of safety signs is to:

  • warn people of hazards;
  • communicate important instructions;
  • reinforce safety messages; and
  • provide instructions for emergency situations, e.g. emergency exit routes.

Every required exit sign must comply with AS 2293.1, Emergency Escape Lighting and Exit Signs for Buildings – System Design, Installation and Operation. This requires that exit signs are clearly visible at all times when the building is occupied by any person with the right of legal entry to the building. This usually means the sign must be constantly lit up.

We recommend that you review Volume 1 of the National Construction Code 2015

Building Code of Australia, which can be accessed from the Australian Building Codes Board website. Specifically, you should refer to Part E4, which examines emergency lighting, exit signs and warning systems.

A copy of AS 2293 may also be a useful guide. This can be purchased from the Standards Australia website, www.standards.org.au.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Safety signs for current advice.

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