Glass has perfect properties for use in the home. It lets natural light in and gives the illusion of space. It's reflective and clean cut. It gives a modern edge to furniture and decorative pieces, including surfaces, mirrors, and framed artworks or photographs. In short, glass has superior utility and design qualities.
But while the use of glass complements home decor, it does not necessarily complement our lifestyles: accidents happen and shattered glass can cause injury. However, by replacing glass that shatters with safety glass, you can have your perfect home and live in it too!
According to research from Monash University, glass is the leading cause (26.1%) of unintentional cutting and piercing home injury hospital and emergency department admissionsi. Available data reveals that fixed or architectural glass (windows, mirrors, furniture, shower glass, etc.) is responsible for the majority of glass-related injuriesi.
Common scenarios reported to the Victorian Injury Surveillance System (VISS) and the Extended Latrobe Valley Injury Surveillance project (ELVIS) included: 'tripped - fell through glass door/ window', 'put hand through door/ window', 'knocking on door/ window, glass broke', 'broke glass during cleaning tasks / handling' and 'stepped on broken glass'ii!
While the type of the glass causing injury is not specified in the University's research findings, it is a known fact that ordinary, annealed glass is easily broken and breaks apart into shards and splinters on impact or pressureiii. These fragments of glass can be very sharp and cause injury. Not surprisingly there are various state laws concerning the use of annealed glass around the home and this material comes under certain regulations from the Australian Building Code and Standards.
Preferred glass in the home
Safety glass refers to glass that will not pose a safety hazard when broken. It is designed to reduce the likelihood of breakage and can be fitted into doors, door surrounds, windows and other locations. Australian Standard (AS) 1288-2006iv applies to glass selection and installation in buildings. It specifies standards for the acceptable thickness and type for a single glass panel in a given area, such as low level glass among others. While newer homes are built to meet the latest Australian Standard, older homes may not meet these newer standards. In such a case you can make the choice to install safety glass to protect the people in your home.
There are three types of safety glass widely available in Australia: wired, toughened/ tempered and laminated glassv,vi,vii.
Laminated glass is manufactured by laminating 2 or more panes of ordinary glass together with a PVB (polyvinyl butyral) inner layer. It is less likely to break but when it does, the glass cracks and sticks to the PVB layer rather than scattering into shards. Laminated glass is the most commonly used safety glass for domestic and commercial buildings; it is also typically used in car windshields.
Tempered glass is manufactured by applying a special heat treatment (temperature of about 620 degrees Celsius) to ordinary glass, followed by rapid cooling of the outer surfaces. It has an increased strength of up to 5 times that of annealed glass. When it does break, the glass shatters into small granules that are blunt and, effectively, harmless.
Wired glass is two layers of glass fused together with a welded wire mesh sandwiched between them . While its impact resistance is similar to that of ordinary glass, in the event of a smash the mesh holds the pieces together instead of shattering. This property means that wired glass is less likely to cause injuries. Wired glass is heat resistant (it has a one hour fire rating) and is often used for fire doors in public buildings. In the home, wired glass may be used for skylights.
Making sure your home is safe and secure can reduce the chance of accidents and injuries occurring. Replacing existing non-safety glass with laminated glass can add an extra level of safety for you and your family. However, it is equally important to be prepared for the unexpected. Taking out home insurance can save you from financial woe in the event of damage caused to your home by one or more of the insured events, including fire or smoke, storm or theft^. Visit the Allianz Web site today for a quote in just 2 minutes.
^ Refer to the relevant Allianz SureCover Home Insurance PDS for more information.
i Monash University, 2002, "Unintentional cutting and piercing injury in the home", Victorian Injury Surveillance & Applied Research System (VISAR), no. 52, http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/research-areas/home-sport-and-leisure-safety/visu/hazard/haz52.pdf, p.11
ii Cassell, E. & Ozanne-Smith, J., 1999, 'Women's injury in the home', Monash University Accident Research Centre, report #158, http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/muarc158.html
iii Clark, B. et al., 2002, "Unintentional cutting and piercing injury in the home", Victorian Injury Surveillance & Applied Research System (VISAR), Monash University Accident Research Centre, no. 52, http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/research-areas/home-sport-and-leisure-safety/visu/hazard/haz52.pdf, p.11
iv SAI Global, 2006, 'Glass in buildings - selection and installation', http://infostore.saiglobal.com/store/details.aspx?ProductID=219658
v Hassan, T. 2010, 'Three main types of safety glass', http://www.articlesbase.com/home-improvement-articles/three-main-types-of-safety-glass-1803225.html
vi Best Glass, 'Laminated and tempered safety glass', http://www.bestglass.com/Laminated-and-Tempered-Glass.html
vii Valiant Glass Service, 'Safety glass', http://www.valiantglass.com.au/glass-products/safety-glass/