Education, Emergency, Feature, Healthcare, Office

Do I need emergency lighting in toilets?

What does the UK Building Regulations prescribe for toilets? In what circumstances in emergency lighting necessary? We explain the rules...

UNDER THE UK building regulations, if you have a single toilet, designed for use by an able-bodied person, then no, emergency lighting is not necessary. Similarly, you don’t need emergency for en-suite toilets or bathrooms, even in hotel bedrooms.

The public toilets at the Bullring in Birmingham, designed by dpa lighting consultants, won a Lighting Design Award in 2005.

However, under BS 5266 -1:2005, you will have to supply emergency lighting from at least one luminaire if the facilities include multiple closets without any borrowed light, or are over 8 sq m in gross area or are toilets dedicated to disabled use.

If in doubt check section 7.8.5.

Note that ‘borrowed light’ in this case means light coming from an adjacent emergency light, not daylight.

Additionally it is difficult to justify street lighting as an acceptable borrowed light, as these are increasingly being switched off for energy saving during the night.

In an existing installation that relied on another source then it should be re-assessed as part of the regular revisions of the fire risk assessment. If in doubt, it’s recommended that additional emergency luminaires are installed.

Remember that BS 5266 is a guidance document and according to the foreword by BSI in the document itself ‘should not be quoted as a standard’. 

We’d recommend the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting course – delivered by the Lighting Industry Association Academy – as it offers lots of further clarification on the status of the various documents used to specify emergency lighting.



  • Emergency lighting and the responsibilities of building owners will be the focus of the conference programme at the Escape Zone at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition taking place at ExCeL London on Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018. Entry is completely free if you pre-register HERE