We all know that any occupation which involves working with glass needs to be carried out very carefully. From glass ornament makers to bottling plants, glass has the potential to cause serious injury if it is handled incorrectly and it can inflict severe cuts and other serious injuries.
With regards to the health and safety of working with glass, most of the legislation deals with issues relating to glass in windows and doors in workplaces and the work of glaziers and installers, although anybody who works with glass, no matter what their occupation, will be required to at least adhere to the legislation laid out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Legislation Specifically Related to Glass Manufacture and Installation
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992 included specific requirements for glazing and these were backed up when they also implemented Regulation 14 which formed part of the EC Workplace Directive.
Regulation 14 required that every window or any kind of other transparent surface contained within the workplace – whether it be a door, partition, gate etc., should either be made of safety materials, protected against the possibility of breakage or be clearly signed or marked to make it apparent to those who came into contact with it. However, this directive only applies in cases where there may be a risk of people suffering an accident or injury by coming into direct contact with the glass or as a result of it breaking by some other means as Regulation 14 only specifies that these additional precautions must be taken “where necessary for reasons of health and safety.” Therefore, a full risk assessment is vital.
The types of issues of concern when it comes to a risk assessment being carried out are the location of the glazing, the amount of people plus any traffic that will be passing by in close proximity and the type of activities which are taking place close to the glazing itself. Doors and gates are particularly vulnerable where the surface which is either translucent or transparent is at or below shoulder level and in objects like windows, partitions and glass walls, if they are at waist height or below, they also constitute a greater element of risk.
The action which should be taken to minimise the risk of injury or accidents will vary depending on different circumstances but can include re-routing pedestrians and/or vehicles or erecting barriers to prevent people coming into close contact with any glazing. Applying a safety film around it, if the glass object is an appropriate shape and size, will also help to prevent it shattering should it get broken. Visibly marking it will also enable people nearby to be aware of the potential dangers and stop them from bumping into it.
These days, technological advancements have meant that glass products or substitutes for them are a lot safer than they were previously. Today British Standard 6262: Part 4: 1994 Code of Practice for Glazing for Buildings states that glazing used in ‘critical locations’ (such as those which have been described above) in buildings must be safe. There is now tempered (toughened) glass, laminated glass and wired glass which all help to improve safety and greatly reduce the risk of injury.