Minimising Ligatures In PICUs

Psychiatric intensive care units (PICU) are committed wards for adult patients to provide inpatient mental health care assessment and full treatment to those that are experiencing severe mental disorders.

PICUs are designed to look after patients who cannot be managed on open psychiatric wards due to the level of risk the patient poses to themselves or others.

Due to the vulnerability of individuals in PICUs, furniture, fixtures, and fittings must be optimised to maintain to deliver safety standards.

Therefore, architects and specifiers need to seek ways to ensure there is a reduced risk of self-harm and suicide in PICUs with anti-ligature products to protect all users.

If you’re involved in the design of specification of a PICU, this blog will run through ligature risks that need to be minimised to provide the utmost safety, read on to find out more…

Minimising Ligatures To Reduce Harm In High Secure Mental Health Units

Those that enter PICUs may be vulnerable and their mental health is often unpredictable, this means that unsafe conditions could be life-threatening for this individual.

It’s commonly believed that suicide risk comes from ligature points that are above head height. However, studies have found that suicides can, unfortunately, occur where ligature points have been below the head or even at waist height.

Another thing to bear in mind is that when individuals seek to self-harm, they don’t look for obvious ligature points.

So, within PICUs when looking for a heating solution for a radiator or an air conditioning guard – it’s essential that they’re anti-ligature.

With standard grilles and casing designs, there are a series of ligature risks. To assure all anti-ligature risks are minimised, you should search for a heating solution that follows these certain characteristics:

  • Small grilles, we recommend IP3X rated grilles
  • (If wall secured) No large gaps between product and wall
  • Minimal gaps or joints
  • No sharp edges
  • Bullnose, rounded corners
  • Security locks and fixings
  • Use anti-pick mastic to seal to the wall and cover any potential gaps

With these design characteristics in place, you’ll considerably minimise the potential for service users to tie rope or cord around any ligature points in PICUs.


Searching For An Anti-Ligature Solution For A High-Secure Mental Health Hospital?

Vandalism is something of common occurrence in PICUs. However, once the furniture has been destructed, the damaged and sharp points can be used as weapons to cause harm to themselves or others.

Contour’s anti-ligature radiators and air conditioning guards are available in Zintec protected steel in gauges ranging from 1.5mm to 3mm to provide you with the assurance that your heating solution is strong and robust in avoiding vandalism and injury.

For more high-risk environments that require added strength, Contour can provide you with a strengthening strut to assist the front of the cover for maximum strength.


Ensuring that ligatures are reduced in PICUs that you specify can save money and severe injury to service users.

Specifying a heating solution that offers durability, strength, and a reduced risk of self-harm will be a long-term investment for your client.

Click here to request a quote, or if you need any other design guidance for PICUs, don’t hesitate to get in touch today on +44 (0) 1952 290 498.

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About Us

Contour produces a range of innovative, safe surface temperature systems for healthcare, education, mental health, commercial and secure sectors, working in close partnership and collaborating with architects, M&E engineers, NHS Trusts, local authorities and contractors to deliver outstanding safe heating solutions.

Contour is the exclusive partner of BioCote® anti-microbial technology for LST and anti-ligature radiators.  BioCote® additives reduce bacteria by up to 99.9%. Contour combines an extensive range of colour-paints is with BioCote® for a durable, high-quality finish.

Contour’s heating solutions offer secure, single-person quick access to radiator guard interiors for regular deep cleaning and maintenance.  Each year, Contour save the NHS millions of pounds in cleaning costs, therefore delivering cleaner, safer environments.  Contour is redefining the marketplace and therefore many regards us as a design and innovation leader within the industry.

Contour has a quality-first philosophy. Our customer-focused team possess a ‘can-do’ attitude, they take pride in developing solutions for your heating requirements.