07 August 2018

The hidden features of 5-way SOS Locksets

I spend almost all of my working week supporting our architectural ironmongery partners.  The support I offer includes configuring locksets, advice on the most appropriate lock options and helping them navigate our wide range of choices.

Often I’m asked specific questions about 5-way SOS (Staff Override System) – what makes it different from 1-way SOS, where to use it and what its biggest benefit is.  So, I thought I’d share some of the common questions I get asked.

It also serves as a good follow-on to an article written by my colleague, Sebastian Mann:  "The safest locksets for Mental Health: How has safety moved on from 'secondary' override?"




What’s the difference between 1-way and 5-way SOS locksets?

The main difference is 5-way SOS ensures clinical staff can always gain access, overcoming any barricade – where a service user has blocked the keyway and immobilised the internal turn-pull.

1-way SOS locksets only overcome simple barricades – where the service user is holding the turn-pull and the keyway has not been tampered with.  

5-way SOS also has key override plus four additional override methods, to ensure staff can overcome the most determined barricade – for example if a service user puts toilet paper or a toenail clipping in the keyway to block it, staff can get in.


5-Way SOS Lockset diagram

5-way SOS locksets have 5 override methods 
– ensuring you can overcome any barricade


1-way SOS locksets are ideal for low risk doors 
– like staff-only areas


Explore the 5 override methods

1. Key

The lock and the internal turn/pull operate independently, so the key always dominates. It’s a direct mechanical override, so there’s no geared cylinder to disengage the turn-pull or clutch mechanism involved.

2. Keyway

Concealed backup override directly turns the spindle, allowing entry if keyway is blocked with foreign objects, like chewing gum or paper.

3. Turn leverage

T-bar emergency tool provides superior leverage to rotate the turn-pull, even if the service user is stronger.

4. Spindle

Spindle shears under heavy resistance, ensuring entry if turn-pull is immobilised. So even in the most serious barricade attempts, where the service user attempts to jam the turn-pull with their bed or body, swift access is achieved without lockcase damage.

5. Pull advantage

T-bar provides significant power advantage to pull the door open – offering better grip than an anti-ligature handle and foiling attempts by a service user to hold the door shut.


What’s the safety spindle?

A little known override method feature is the safety spindle in 5-way SOS.  The safety spindle makes all the difference when a service user has jammed the turn-pull with furniture or something similar.  The force exerted by the staff using the T-bar tool, is sufficient to shear the spindle – which allows the bolt to be retracted – ending the barricade and enabling access.


Can I modify a standard lock-case for use in Mental Health?

We’ve been working in the Mental Health sector for more than a decade.  We’re also a team of product designers – so we know what works and what doesn’t.  Customers sometimes ask me if it’s okay to take a standard lock-case and modify it for the Mental Health environment.

My answer is always the same – don’t do it because you could be risking someone’s life.  The patented override mechanism with our locksets is built into the lock-case itself, so if you use a 3rd party lockcase you’ll be missing out on the critical safety feature.

We design locksets specifically for use in Mental Health, spending a huge amount of time identifying and eliminating safety issues through exhaustive, repeatable and quantified testing.  There are many detailed points we incorporate to ensure the highest safety standards.


How can 5-way SOS help future proof my client’s unit?

By specifying 5-way SOS on all bedroom doors, you are recognising that this is one of the highest risk rooms in the building, no matter the security level of the unit.  You only need one incorrect risk assessment of a service user for there to be serious incident without reliable means of getting access.

I’m often told that buildings are specified years before they are used, and the type of service users can vary from the original plan.  By specifying 5-way SOS, you’re helping the client prepare for any service user – dementia, CAMHS, acute, low secure, or medium secure.

And the upcost is only 10% per door and will typically only impact 10-20% of the total number of doors.  A small price for future-proofing the unit. 


Why might the indicator lockset be ideal for service users’ bedrooms?

Originally designed for toilet doors, I often find our ironmongery partners asking me about using it on bedroom doors too and I think that’s a great idea.   The indicator signal is only activated from the turn-pull on the inside, so when it’s used on bedrooms, ward staff can see by a quick glance that the room has been locked from inside.  The indicator colour does not change when doors are locked by the staff key – and the staff key overrides the turn-pull, giving staff access when required. 


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Picture of Keith Evans

Keith Evans
Partner Sales Support