Unsafe Wire Glass in Canada
We know your clients have a lot of questions about the safety of wire glass and you need to be ready to answer them with accurate information.
Glassopolis has put together the most up-to-date information about wired safety glass for you but the easiest and fastest way to stay informed is via email or by contacting Glassopolis directly at 1–800–262–9600 with your questions.
Why is Wired Glass a Problem?
Traditional wired glass breaks more easily than plain glass — it has approximately half the strength.
The wires hold the shards of broken glass in place increasing the severity of injuries because the during an accident, one’s instinct is to pull away from the impact which lacerates the injury a second time. If an artery is severed, a victim can bleed to death in minutes.
Are the Number of Injuries from Wired Glass Exaggerated?
Hotels have also had publicized claims against them for wire glass injuries3.
Before standards changed in the US, approximately 2,500 injuries from wire glass occurred each year in American elementary schools alone4.
Exact numbers for Canada are difficult to calculate as many incidents are not publicized.
However, the facts above suggest that the annual number of wire glass injuries in Canada is significant and horrible.
When are the Building Standards Being Updated?
An update to the glass standards is in discussion but precisely when it will be finished and in force is unknown.
Even when/if that process is finished, the building codes of different jurisdictions and governments in Canada will need to be updated. That process is individual to each group and will likely take years.
The existing glass standard (CGSB 12.11 “Safety Wired Glass”) dates from 1990 and is expected to be replaced by a more universal standard which will cover all safety glass. Traditional wired glass is not expected to pass the new standard.
In the absence of Standards, what is the incentive to NOT use unsafe Wired Glass?
Aside from risking the safety of a building’s occupants, there is the risk of law suits against a building’s owners and the companies selling and installing the unsafe wired glass involved in an incident.
For example, the Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange has paid $5.8 million in accident claims1 related to unsafe wired glass.
Wired Glass Fire Rated Alternatives
Most locations that traditionally used unsafe wired glass need a glass that is BOTH impact-safety rated AND fire-rated. Below, we’ve compared unsafe wired glass with two popular alternatives.
|Feature||Traditional Unsafe Wire Glass||Protect3||Pyran Platinum|
|What is it?||Glass with embedded wire||Glass with embedded wire and a protective film||Ceramic|
|Appearance||Visible Wire||Visible Wire||Transparent and wireless. Not yellow-brown like other glass-ceramics|
|Environmental Impact||- -||- -||Manufactured WITHOUT arsenic and other toxins|
|Fire Rating||Up to 45 minutes||Up to 90 minutes||Up to 90 minutes|
|Impact Safety Rated||NO||YES||YES|
Where can I get more information about these alternatives?
Links to online information is below. To stay informed about new information regarding wired glass, join our email list. For any other questions you may have, contact Glassopolis directly at 1–800–262–9600.
Are safe wired glass alternatives expensive?
No. In context of how they are typically used, they add only a fraction to the overall cost.
Considering the dangers and past tragedies, traditional unsafe wired glass costs too much.
Is there a fire rated film that can be applied to existing "in place" wired glass applications in schools that is available and approved for use in Canada?
No because everything -- i.e. the glass and film as a whole package -- must be UL certified.
14 year old Jason Hubben of Edmonton bled to death on September 11, 2001 when an artery in his leg was severed behind the knee in a tragic broken wired glass incident at St. Kevin Junior High in Edmonton. In 2007, Tyler Dickie pushed his arm through a wired glass door at his high school in Amherst, NS and suffered permanent nerve damage and loss of function.
Protect3TM Safety Glass is a trademark of Glassopolis Inc.
® PYRAN is a registered trademark of SCHOTT AG.
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