SAFE GLASS COMPLIANCE
What is safe glass compliance and how to achieve it?
The legal need in any building for all glass fitted within a so-called “critical area” 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.
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.
1.01) BS6262 part 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.
1.02) BS EN 12600:2002: Glass in buildings. Pendulum test
New impact test for all glazing substrates. Has a direct link to BS6262 part 4:2005 and with the legal need to provide a fully visable permanent mark to all glass fitted in any critical area.
1.03) 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.
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 Reg 14 survey should be neither a rubber stamp nor a tick the box exercise. It should be rigorous and honest.
1.04) 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 siting, 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.
1.05) 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 rented or leased. If a property was built in 2010 and the new tenants were moving in in 2017, then the regulations correct on that day in 2017 are those that need to be applied and conform to and not those when the building was first erected.
1.06) 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.
A term first used within BS6262:1982 and formed part of the Building Regulations for England & Wales. All panes of glass within a “critical area” had to meet new impact testing. Such panes were to be marked as safe. They needed to be made visible.
A “critical area” is defined by law and is found in its basic format on a handy, widely published little chart.
Beware the “Critical area” diagram. The diagram can be found here. 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.
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.
Some unsafe doors opening within a glazed screen have extra visual requirements.
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.
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 it break, injury can be serious, even fatal.
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 regulation applies to both domestic & non-domestic premises, some to one or the other.