MARKS USA LifeSaver Ligature Resistant Door Hardware Solutions

July 2, 2018
Ergonomic shape and specialized functions are designed for behavioral and health care institutions and correctional facilities

Architectural hardware continues to evolve to meet the specialized security and life safety demands of modern life.

Most locksmiths are familiar with the broad set of requirements set forth in the Americans With Disabilities Act, legislation which had a transformative affect on the way we look as accessibility and emergency egress issues faced by individuals with mobility and cognitive issues.

Locksmiths have long adhered to the rules established in NFPA 101 Special Locking arrangements, enabling them to enhance security without jeopardizing life safety. NFPA 72 also includes details on fire doors, and very importantly the inspection of fire door assemblies.

But of course there are also many specialized areas of code which address unique and less common scenarios where a urgent need for more definitive solutions have been observed and responded to.

Two areas which are very common, and warranted in industry response were (are) schools and managed healthcare. While the life safety codes serve well in general applications, special purpose occupancies cry out for additional measures.

Hospitals are at high-risk for suicide, even when regular patient monitoring checks are in place. In fact, over 1,500 suicides occur in hospitals each year.

A joint commission study on suicides at VA (Veterans Affairs) hospitals found that doors and door hardware were the primary anchor point for 28 percent of ligature related suicide and suicide attempts - nearly double the next most common attachment point.

Suicide is also the single largest cause of death while incarcerated (29 percent, the only cause of death to occur at a higher rate in jails than in the general population.

This problem also extends to juvenile confinement facilities. In a study from 1995 through 1999, ligature strangulation was used in 98.7 percent of suicides at such facilities, with door hardware used as the attachment point in more suicides than any other means (20.5 percent).

ANSI/BHMA A156.34-2016, American National Standard for Bored Locks and Mortise Locks with Ligature Resistant Trim, defines requirements and test methods for ligature resistant trim on bored locks and mortise locks. These requirements apply to the exposed parts of the lockset on the face of the door in the closed position only.

In addition the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) has created a series of Hardware Highlights to provide useful, accessible information about builders hardware for anyone with an interest in door hardware.

BHMA is the trade association which represents almost all of the North American manufacturers of builders hardware. One of its main activities since 1983 has been the development and maintenance of ANSI-approved standards for 35 separate product categories.

Purchasers of locks with ligature resistance certified to A156.34 ( can be assured products will perform to their expectations. Attributes such as the force to retract the latch and force to close the door are measured to ensure ease of egress and smooth closing.

The forces to open the door vary by the type of lock – compliance to the respective standards is required. For example, under LIGATURE RESISTANCE, Grade 2, the force gauge does not exceed 11 lbf in any direction from the attachment point within the shaded area, or no attachment at all.

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MARKS USA Ligature Resistant Products

Marks USA Custom Lock Division offers ANSI Grade 1 Institutional Life Safety Locksets to address Managed Liability, Accident Prevention, Life Safety and Security in Behavioral Health Care Institutions. The shape and construction of the 5SS55 and 5SS19 Series locksets are designed to restrict the attachment of lines, laces, etc. to door knobs and levers. In addition, with the knobs/levers recessed into the rosettes, the chance of capturing a line between the knob/lever and rosette is substantially eliminated.

These include:

  • Series SS19 Institutional Life Safety Mortise Locksets – Levers
  • Series SS55 Institutional Life Safety Cylindrical Locksets, Deadlatch locksets & Mortise Deadlocks-Knobs
  • Series PD Cylindrical & Mortise Hospital Push/Pull Paddlesets

These are tested to 1,500,000 cycles minimum and meet or exceed all operational and security tests of ANSI specifications A156.13-2005 for series 5000, Grade 1.

Trim features include:

  • Solid stainless steel interior and exterior tapered knobs or levers recessed into thru-bolted roses.
  • Safety knobs with recessed grip and finger indents (Patent #D587556).
  • Safety lever for handicapped access on clutch operated Mortise lock.
  • Ergonomically designed grooved turn knob for deadbolt functions.
  • Solid stainless steel cylinders with solid stainless steel security collars. Optional HI-SECURITY™ cylinders available
  • 4-7/8" curved lip stainless steel strikes with tamperproof screws
  • 1-3/4" standard door thickness, extended range available
  • ANSI A115.1 lock face cutout door prep, with 2-1/8" through hole for knob/rose assembly

Lock Specifications:

  • 5 Series (2-3/4" Backset)
  • 55 Series (2-1/2" Backset)
  • Lock Front: Adjustable bevel steel backplate 1-1/4" x 8" x 7/64" thick, Cover plate 1/16" thick with tamper proof screws
  • Latch: Solid stainless steel with antifriction latch lever, 3/4" throw (reversible) Levers: Solid cast stainless steel. Levers Rotate up & down freely in locked or unlocked position
  • Aux. Deadlatch: 1/2" throw, (reversible)
  • Case: Stamped steel 3/32" thick, zinc dichromate finish
  • Hubs: Steel, 9/32" on diamond, 5/16" on square w/security separator
  • Hub Lock Arm: (to lock hub) Steel 1/8" thick
  • Spindles: Independent spring-loaded spindles

Standard Features:

  • ANSI-A156.2 Grade 1, UL listed 3 Hr. Fire Rating
  • Backset: 2-3/4" Standard, 2-3/8", 3-3/4", 5" Available
  • Latch #1834, stainless steel nose
  • Solid cast stainless steel levers rotate up and down freely in locked or unlocked position
  • Levers recessed into solid stainless steel roses eliminating any open gap
  • Roses: Thru-bolted, spring loaded, #10 thru-bolts
  • Strike: #1135, 4-7/8" ASA curved lip strike
  • Cylinder: MARKS “C” keyway, 6 pin w/ 2 keys
  • Stainless steel retractor

HI-SECURITY™ IC Core Models: Interchangeable Core models for 6 or 7 pin cores (not included). Accepts: Marks, Marks HI-SECURITY™, Medeco®, KeyMark™, Falcon, Schlage® small format and Best. IC Core Tailpieces are included. When ordering IC core cylinder, add the prefix “R” to the part number ie: 5SS55RA/32D.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.