Designing and installing new special locking arrangements can be a challenging process, and assessing existing locking arrangements for compliance is often even more challenging. There is a significant amount of information required to perform a comprehensive locking arrangement analysis; therefore, committing the necessary time and resources is essential to achieve a successful outcome.

Health care occupancies permit a specific locking arrangement in psychiatric or dementia-type units. A second type of health care occupancy specific locking arrangement is permitted in an emergency department or pediatric/maternity-type units. Units that do not serve a patient population with clinical or security needs most likely must be provided with delayed egress or access-controlled locking.

Below are a few recommended steps to perform an existing locking arrangement assessment:

  • Step 1. Discuss the goal of providing the security on the door with the stakeholders. 
  • Step 2. Determine which sides of the door (if any) are required for egress.
  • Step 3. Document existing conditions at the door, such as which sides are secured, types of patients treated in area, and presence of items such as exit signs, manual release devices, motion sensors and signage in area.
  • Step 4. Determine which locking arrangement appears to be installed and review the code to ensure all features are provided.

A common mistake is not providing all the code-required features for a specific locking arrangement. Another common mistake is providing features from different locking arrangements permitted by code. 

A comprehensive review of each type of locking arrangement per the 2012 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, and the 2018 edition of the International Building Code® can be found in an April 2018 article in Health Facilities Management called “Complying with locking requirements.”

Another resource is an ASHE tool developed to assist in designing and documenting special locking arrangements. 

Lennon Peake, PE, SASHE, director at Koffel Compliance, Columbia, Md.