Glass Health & Safety regulations for impact safety

Health and Safety Regulations

The legal need in any building is for all glass fitted within a so-called “critical location” to be safe. Both visually and in terms of physical impact. Safe is defined by a legal need set in law – UK and European. And it is enforced. Before and after an injury or accident occurs.

Below we explore the need to comply with currents laws, the present legal requirement and the means to prevent injury from contact with glass.

1) Why Comply?

Use of glass today is vast. It is now a construction material, no longer just for letting in light and to see out. Much is fitted at low level. Many people are hurt merely by walking into a pane of glass.  Should it break, injury can be serious, even fatal.

2) Who has to comply?

Any person deemed in law to be legally in charge of a pane of glass. It may be the owner, a manager, a tenant or even a householder. Some regulations apply to both domestic & non-domestic premises, some to one or the other.

3) I am the responsible person. How do I comply?

Obtain an independent survey from a source upon which you can rely. This path has legal status and will offer a clear view of your own level of risk.

And don’t forget. Will your negligence insurance policy indemnify you for failing to comply with the law? Real food for thought, perhaps?.

Or you may obtain a free glass survey. But if you do not have to pay for it, then you have merely got somebody else’s personal opinion. And you are still in the legal frame.

Ask yourself the question why someone would ever conduct a survey for nothing? Charity is fine in the right place, but for a glass safety survey? Perhaps they have an undisclosed service to sell. And then you could well find yourself paying for the free survey anyway.

But it’s still a free country. You can elect to do nothing or decide to follow the DIY route.

However, if you want your premises surveyed professionally and independently, please get in touch.

Call AITCo Consulting and let us take the strain.

O1379 852098 or 01394 215699

Email address :- info@aitcoconsulting.co.uk

4) What is a “critical location” for impact safety glass?

A term first used within BS6262:1982 and formed part of the Building Regulations for England & Wales. All panes of glass within a “critical location” had to meet new impact testing. Such panes were to be marked as safe. They needed to be made visible.

A “critical location” is defined by law and is found in its basic format on a widely published chart.

Beware the chart. It’s just a guide and a basic aid for the construction industry prior to handover of new premises to a client. After that, other legal considerations come into force to top up the term “safe”. And quite complex ones at that.

The chart on its own will never be quite enough. It will not, for instance, warn you when even a piece of glass marked as safe cannot be used in a certain area.

5) Which regulations cover glass safety?

Many and complex. Some are pan-European law, some the UK’s own. Some even form part of wider consumer practice and not with a full legal need. But might mean a failing to comply with an in house industry regulation.

1. BS6262-4:2005 Glazing for buildings. Code of Practice for safety related to human impact

Rare for a British Standard, but this code of practice has held full legal status as the bible of the UK glass industry since 1982 – for over 30 years. Part 4 sets the basic safe glass standard. Important for impact and visibility of fitted glass.

2. BS EN 12600:2002: Glass in buildings. Pendulum test

This legislation takes over from BS 6206: 1981. New impact test for all glazing substrates. Has a direct link to BS6262-4:2005 and with the legal need to provide a permanent mark to all glass fitted in any critical location.

3. Regulation 14: Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992:

Updated in 2013, this safety regulation is vital. And a danger for the unwary. It lays out a specific need for safe glass and is very subtle.

It puts safe glass compliance in the hands of local management. What would they know about it, you might ask?  Quite possibly not enough.

Regulation 14 can invite them to do nothing about it. But beware and be aware. The law will always identify that person with the legal responsibility in the event of an accident.

Utmost care is needed. The rules refer to the actual daily use of premises. Not to the original design and construction, or its handing over to the client. A Regulation 14 survey should be neither a rubber stamp nor a tick the box exercise. It should be rigorous and honest. It might not make good reading. It might even upset you. But it should keep you out of gaol.

4. Building Regulations for England & Wales 2010:  similar in Scotland & Northern  Ireland

A range of legal requirements for new or refurbished premises. The rules which refer to glass are wide. All aspects of fitting, handling and maintaining of fitted glass are covered. As well as the impact safety of glass and ensuring its visibility.

A major update came into effect in April 2013. Safe glass is now concentrated under Approved Document K. Glass safety was covered by Document M and Document N of the Building regulations. The update took all information covering glass safety and placed it under Document K. 

5. Rimmer v Liverpool City Council Appeal Court Judgement 1984

A most complex court case, but a landmark Common law decision referring to domestic and non-domestic premises. It led the Director General of the Glass & Glazing Federation to state that all managers of property should ignore the Rimmer case at their peril.

The case involved a tenant injured by low-level glass in a local council pre-war flat. A  number of vital points arose for the very first time from this judgement.

A legal duty of care under laws of negligence was now owed by a landlord to tenants and to their visitors.

Glass had to be safe in terms of regulation current at the time of premises being re-let. And not those regulations in force when the premises were first built or later refurbished.

6. Other glass related rules

Safe glass rules apply widely within UK industry and commerce.

The food industry – processing, storing and using – has its own inspection and certification regime, which covers glass in every aspect. Lack of certification can interrupt or even close the daily business.

Managers need to ensure local industry needs, quite apart from general law already described above.

6) What is glass safety manifestation?

The term means to ensure that all glass in a critical area is fully visible when approached from either side. It refers in a basic sense to large panes coming to floor level. Especially around an entrance or exit.

Rules refer to both internal and external glass in non-domestic premises only. That might appear simple enough, but the rules are strict.

A pane will need deep edge frames, large push pads, rails across or something similar fitted to make its presence clear. If not fitted, then a form of permanent surface decoration has to be applied between stated heights from the ground.

Frameless glazed doors from floor to ceiling, opening within a glazed partition / screen have extra visual requirements. They need to be made identifiable from their side panes by a high contrast strip on the top of the door and on both sides. The following link identifies what can happen if large panes of glass are not dealt with is respect of the current glazing safety legislation.

EDP Car showroom glazing accident

A final twist to reaching safety compliance is the need to ensure that the glass is still visible when approached from either side and under all inside and outside lighting conditions.

Seems simple enough. But counsel for an injured party might make hay of your efforts.

7) What are the penalties for failure to comply?

Many and varied. Lack of certification can prove a disaster in a commercial sense.

Failing to comply with the law can result in fines upon inspection.

Serious cases with or without injury can result in fines and even bear upon a claim under negligence insurance. The most serious cases can result in gaol. And the spectre of corporate manslaughter could affect almost any manager in the event of a fatal incident.

February 1st 2016, sees a big change in sentencing guidelines for courts of law. These guidelines can be found HERE :- New Sentencing Guidelines 2016

8) What are AITCo Consulting professional recommendations?

Call AITCo Consulting now to discuss your potential safe glass issues.

O1379 852098 or 01394 215699

Email address :- info@aitcoconsulting.co.uk