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Are your door handles anti-ligature and are they easy to use?

Posted by Hipac Marketing Team on 29 October 2020
Are your door handles anti-ligature and are they easy to use?

Anti-ligature door handles

This can sometimes be difficult to determine as some products appear to be anti-ligature and can even be marketed as such but may have significant ligature risks. Be sure to check if the product has been tested and classified according to DHF TS001. This is a technical standard that assesses door hardware for ligature resistance that is freely available online. 

Helpful Tip: Avoid any type of lever handle. These fail DHF TS001 Testing as a ligature can be achieved by looping something under or around the levers.

Safety Should Not Compromise Functionality - Can you live with it?

Often in the process selecting an anti-ligature handle or lockset, the question of how easy or comfortable it is to use is overlooked. Ease of use can have a significant impact on both patients and staff and there are several factors to consider when deciding on a suitable lock;

  • Size of handle/snib-

    • this is typically the easiest aspect to compare. For most locks/latches to operate they require the user to rotate some form of handle. Comparing anti-ligature snibs/handles is as simple as comparing the distances from the pivot point to the furthermost point of the handle. The further the handle extends from the pivot point, the more leverage it will have and the less force it will require to operate. For circular type handles as per the examples below, the greater the diameter, the more leverage you will have to operate the lock.

  • Grasp-ability-

    • How easily the handle can be grasped? - not just to operate the lock but also to pull the door open or closed. To better understand this, compare the below examples. Consider factors like wet hands or dexterity issues and where you can place your fingers and what you have to grasp when turning the handle and pulling the door closed.

  • Orientation and distance of rotation-
    • If the handle requires you to rotate your wrist into an uncomfortable position, repeated use may result in a repetitive strain injury (RSI). The best way to assess this, is to actually operate a physical sample of the handle you are considering, to confirm how comfortable it feels to lock/unlock. Detailed in figure 10, is the orientation of rotation, for the internal handle design we recommend. To emphasise this point, stand this page upright, line your fist up with the handle position, and rotate it from left to right, between the lock and unlock positions. This rotation should be comfortable for most users.


Hipac Handles

Options available on the market


Can your doors be locked or barricaded to prevent staff access?

If the door can be locked it is important to ensure that you have a quick and reliable way to override the lock, if the lock is jammed or a patient is trying to lock or barricade themselves away from staff. Avoid clutching locks and coin slot overrides. These are common in standard door hardware however are a risk and are unsuitable for mental health facilities. Further details on this can be found in our catalogue, click here to view.

These are some good override options to consider:

  • 1 Way Staff Override System

    • This is the minimum level of override required for any mental health facility. The handle and key operate independently so the key will always dominate even if the patient is trying to hold the internal handle in the locked position.

    • It is a direct mechanical override so there is no geared cylinder to disengage the turn/pull and no clutch mechanism involved.

    • An optional slide-over emergency pull handle can be utilised to enable more than one person to assist in pulling the door open, if there is resistance from the patient side of the door. 

  • 5 Way Staff Overrride System

    • This system is the most comprehensive override system currently available. In addition to the staff key always dominating the internal handle, this override system has an emergency override method if the normal keyway has been damaged or tampered with (e.g. paper or chewing gum inserted into keyway).


The 5 Way Override System


While we trust they are rarely used, in an emergency situation, they may be the critical elements that save a life. The 5 methods are set out below:

  1. Key -  The key and lockcase operate independently of the internal handle. Therefore in a barricade situation, if accessible, the key always dominates.
  2. Keyway - If the visible keyway is blocked with foreign objects, like chewing gum or paper, the concealed backup override directly turns the spindle, allowing entry.
  3. Turn Leverage (T-Bar) - The T-bar emergency tool provides superior leverage to rotate the handle, even if the patient is stronger than the clinician.
  4. Spindle - Under heavy resistance, the safety spindle shears on the patient side of the door, ensuring entry if the handle is immobilised. Even in the most serious barricade attempts, where the patient attempts to jam the handle with their bed or body, swift access is achieved without lockcase damage.
  5. Pull Advantage (T-Bar) - The T-bar provides a significant power advantage to pull the door open, offering better grip than an anti-ligature handle, foiling attempts by a patient to hold the door shut using their body weight




Anti-ligature 5-way SOS (Staff Override System) lockset for Mental Health from Safehinge Primera on Vimeo.

Click here to learn more about anti-ligature door handles and other at risk patient products

Click here to see the Hipac anti-ligature door handle range 

To request a quote or place an order, please contact our Customer Service Team on 1800 75 93 93 or [email protected]

Author:Hipac Marketing Team
Tags:NewsProduct Spotlight