SA TS 5367:2021

On 22 October 2021, Standards Australia released Technical Specification SA TS 5367:2021, Hybrid photoluminescent signage – Product specification, installation and operation.

The new Technical Specification is designed to sit alongside the NCC documentation as an alternative deemed-to-satisfy solution, and to provide industry practitioners with an objective, detailed toolkit for achieving best practice.

The 25-page SA TS 5367:2021 relates only to Hybrid PL Exit Signage, i.e. PL signs fitted with their own adjacent LED luminaires to keep panels ‘charged’. It is hoped that a similar TS will be created in the near future for Passive PL Exit Signage (PL signs charged solely by surrounding light without the need for supporting luminaires).

Part E4 of the National Construction Code (NCC 2016) released in May 2016 was retitled “Visibility in an Emergency, Exit Signs, and Warning Systems”, the objective of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) being to encourage innovation with a performance based design approach. The ABCB further made their point by replacing the term ‘Alternative Solution’ with ‘Performance Solution’ to clarify that Performance Requirements are the mandatory components of the code. The amended terminology brought into focus that a Performance Solution satisfies the code and the DtS prescription is just one of many approaches that can be used.

This change in approach provided opportunities for designers to deliver greater value to clients by creating performance solutions that are cost effective and sustainable and endorsed photoluminescent products as a viable alternative for use in emergency evacuation systems.

In 2014 provisions were made in the National Construction Code (NCC) to allow for the use of photoluminescent (PL) technology as an alternative to internally illuminated or externally illuminated emergency exit signs, however, at that time there was still no Australian or New Zealand Standard which provided requirements specific to PL exit signs, nor requirements for the routine inspection and maintenance of PL signs. Indeed, the Standards Australia, Standards, Development and Accreditation Committee (SDAC) made the decision in May 2017 to remove all references to PL exit signs from the draft of AS/NZS 2293.2 (2017) ‘Emergency escape lighting and exit signs for buildings Part 2: Inspection and maintenance’.

With no clear guidelines to follow and the possibility of failure of signs which are not routinely or properly inspected and maintained, designers and/or owners/managers of facilities may well have perceived PL signs as potentially unsafe and opted for signs which have clear standards to adhere to.

This situation was untenable as it favoured electrical signs and seriously hindered the market for PL signs.

As a result, and after extensive industry consultation, in 2019, the PLC developed and ratified three standards specific to PL exit signs.