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Product Safety - Safety of Glass Doors, Windows & Other Translucent Surfaces

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005

Window and Glass Hazards

Glass is increasingly a popular material for inclusion in offices and homes.  Increasingly, it extends from floor to ceilings and appears in floor to ceiling windows, conservatories, glass doors, side panels, sliding panels, patio doors and glass shower cubicles as well as appearing in windows and as table-tops or surfaces.

Children are particularly vulnerable.  Windows and glass doors cause about 400 injuries to children under 14 every year.

Falling From Windows

10 children a year are know to die as result of falling from a height, such as a window, with many more suffering injuries. To prevent falls from windows:

Moving furniture, beds and other potential 'climbing frames' away from windows.

Fit window locks or safety catches that restrict openings (for ventilation) to no more than 10cm

If windows don't allow ventilation whilst locked - consider a window safety barrier

Collisions and Cuts

Many accidents in the home and in the office are caused by running into glass, mostly because it hasn’t been seen.  At the least this may cause concussion injuries but if the glass shatters it can cause significant cuts and major bleeding.

Again, children are particularly vulnerable.

Ordinary regular glass is extremely dangerous because it breaks into jagged pieces that cause serious injuries. Safety glass is a legal requirement in new buildings - if your property is older, you should replace all glass doors and panels with safety glass manufactured to BS 6206.

There are different categories of safety glass:

Toughened – Toughened-glass is heat-treated and does not shatter.  It disintegrates into small, granular pieces, which are not sharp, and reduces the risk of injury. Small pieces will still be dangerous to children so ensure they are kept away in the event of breakage.

Laminated  – Laminated glass consists of two or more sheets of ordinary glass attached together by a plastic interlayer. On impact any broken glass will remain attached to the plastic reducing the risk of injury

Wired  – Wired glass has a network or mesh of wires embedded in it.

It all three cases the risk of shatter is reduced and so is risk from cutting injuries.

An alternative less expensive but temporary option is stick-on safety film, which helps prevent glass splintering.

For more information on different types of safety glass and how to tell what is safety glass visit our page on glass doors.

Avoiding Collision Injury:

Transfers or stickers can highlight dangerous glass areas to adults and children.

Ensure that rugs and maps will not cause people to trip and keep loose rugs and mats away from glass doors and windows in case they slip.

Consider screening low-level glass areas with plants or furniture

When buying furniture with glass doors or tops, look for approval to BS 7376 and BS 7449

Keep glassed areas well lit.

Use of Safety Materials

Transparent or translucent surfaces in doors, gates, walls and partitions should be of safety materials or be adequately protected against breakages in the following cases:

In doors and gates and door and gate panels where any part of the transparent or translucent surface is at shoulder level or below

In windows, walls and partitions where any part of the transparent or translucent surface is at waist level or below, except in glass houses where people are likely to aware of the presence of the glazing and to avoid contact.

Safety materials (ie safety glass, polycarbonates or glass blocks) are not required in narrow panes up to 250mm wide measured between glazing beads.

When glass or transparent or translucent materials are used in furniture – including trolleys – it must meet the appropriate British Safety Standards.

When conducting risk assessments:

Ensure that all transparent or translucent surfaces in doors, gates, walls and partitions have been labelled permanently and correctly:

Look for the label. All safety glass should be labelled. It can be etched, sandblasted or embossed on the glass. Whatever the method, the label should be impossible to remove without destroying the glass.

The label should provide all the information that is necessary to identify the type of glass treatment and the glass grade.  Grade "A" safety glass is used in most areas that are deemed to be a hazard.

The label will also identify the type of glass, whether the glass is laminated or toughened. Laminated glass is somewhat stronger than toughened glass, but both prevent the glass from breaking into large shards.

The label will also specify the safety standard to which it conforms.

If there is no label consult a glazier who will be able to determine if the glass is safety glass or not.

Ensure that all glass products are highly visible

Ensure there are no imperfections in any glass products, including furniture and trolleys, that could cause stress concentrations, thus lowering the strength of the glass

Ensure that the glass is properly installed and continues to be stable and held securely in place

Contact us to help you conduct a full risk assessment of your premises

Additional Reading:

General Products
Glass Doors
Glass in Furniture
Bunk Beds
Electric Blankets

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