European standards driving access control product specification

Adams Rite Europe technical officer Andy Stolworthy highlights the increasing influence European standards are having upon the specification of access control products.

Safety cannot be compromised where people’s lives are concerned, but this doesn’t mean that security and access control have to be compromised instead.

Specifiers, building managers and facilities managers in the public and private sectors are not only responsible for ensuring that a building, its contents and the people inside are adequately protected against attack and theft, but also for ensuring the facility is safe for and suitably accessible by staff and visitors alike.

The security products and systems must keep unauthorised people out, while emergency escape equipment and panic exit devices must work first time, every time and enable building occupants to egress quickly and safely.

But with such a vast range of locking products and access control solutions on the market, meeting this challenge is a complex task. This is further complicated by the presence in the marketplace of an increasing number of uncertified, ‘copycat’ products that haven’t been tested to the same degree as individual products, let alone as part of an integrated access and egress control package.

European standards to the rescue
When you add into the mix a myriad of security specifications, safety guidelines, building regulations, legislative requirements, the DDA and budget restrictions, and the additional mention of European Standards might initially be greeted with a sigh of near despair by specifiers!

From traditional locks to keyless door entry devices and electronic access control systems, there is a wealth of hardware that can provide robust building security. But whatever security option is chosen, this has to be able to be simply over-ridden so that people can safely and easily vacate the building in case of emergency.

Fire routes, for example, must enable a quick and safe exit. But, in many cases the same doors that will need to be exited through in an emergency must also be secure from unauthorised external entry.

So where can specifiers turn to for help in resolving this seemingly conflicting situation?

The continued development and introduction of two rigorous European standards for emergency exit hardware and panic exit hardware provides an excellent route through this access vs egress challenge.

Emergency exit device standard
BS EN 179 was drafted in order to give safe and effective escape through a doorway where, because people are familiar with the emergency exit and its hardware, a panic situation is most unlikely to develop.

This standard sets out the operating criteria and parameters to release an exit device operated by a lever or paddle handle with one single operation.

Panic exit device standard
BS EN 1125 sets out the performance characteristics for exit devices operated by a horizontal bar, that will facilitate safe and effective escape through a doorway with minimum effort and without prior knowledge of the device - where a panic situation is likely to occur. Doors that conform to this standard must be able to be opened at all times by hand or body pressure along its inside face on the panic device.

So, whether you are dealing with a public sector hospital, school, university or library, or a commercial establishment in the private sector, these two escape standards help specifiers and building managers ensure the access control products proposed for their building do not interfere with the vital means and routes of escape.

A neat and versatile solution to this access control vs safety problem is the Adams Rite Codelock. This mechanical access control device has been specifically packaged with exit bar and paddle handle options, to conform with BS EN 1125 and BS EN 179 respectively. Codelock is an easy to install mechanical alternative to electronic keypads, electric strikes and magnetic locks. Supplied as a complete external entry door trim package, it is suitable for both new and retro-fit applications and can be fitted onto aluminium-framed emergency exit and panic exit doors.

The message is simple: if you choose access control solutions that meet the latest European security and safety standards, such as the Adams Rite Codelock kit – with either the paddle handle or exit bar options - you won’t fall foul of cheap, uncertified alternatives that haven’t been subjected to the same exacting testing standards.

For more information call 01322 668 024 or visit

About the author
Andy Stolworthy – Technical Officer at Adams Rite Europe Limited. Andy sits on a number of BSi and trade technical committees including the UK Mirror Committee which is responsible for developing & maintaining National standards and providing UK input into the development of European standards for exit devices.