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USGNN Original StoryConcerns Over Glass Used in Tabletops in the News Once Again
March 23, 2009

Safety issues relating to glass tabletops are making headlines again. A review conducted by Children's Hospital Boston done in collaboration with Consumer's Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, found that many injuries involving glass tabletops could have been avoided if tempered glass had been used. The report has been garnering a fair amount of press coverage (see links below).

Using a computer algorithm to search electronic records, researchers identified 174 glass-table injuries logged by the hospital's emergency department between 1995 and 2007. In reviewing the patients' charts, they concluded that half of the injuries would have been preventable or less severe with safety glass. Cuts were most often on the face, especially in young children, followed by feet, legs, hands and arms. Forty percent of patients needed imaging to find buried pieces of glass, and 80 percent needed surgical repair.

"This is a serious safety hazard with a simple remedy," says Donald Mays, senior director of product safety and technical policy for Consumers Union. "The use of tempered glass can significantly reduce the more than 20,000 serious injuries incurred each year from the use of common annealed glass in furniture."

In order to try and increase the amount of safety glass used in furniture applications, ASTM International is currently working to develop a standard (CLICK HERE for related article).

ASTM Subcommittee F15.42 on Furniture Safety, which reports to Committee F15 on Consumer Products, balloted a draft standard earlier this year. However, an ASTM representative told USGNN.com that numerous negatives were returned, which are now being addressed. All must be resolved before the ballot can move forward.

Mays told USGNN.com that he is working with ASTM on the development of the standard and expects that many of the negatives will be resolved soon so that they can move forward on the next ballot. Mays says some of the negatives related to the language used in the standard.

"We want the language to be clear so that it cannot be misinterpreted," says Mays.

However, should a standard ultimately be published, this may not resolve completely the concern over a lack of safety glass used in furniture. For one, a standard is only voluntary and cannot be enforced unless mandated by code or law. Currently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, for example, does not mandate safety glass for tabletops. In addition, another consideration is the fact that much of the glass used for furniture is made in other countries, namely China. Mays says he hopes that sine ASTM is an international organization that manufacturers outside the United States would still produce glass in compliance with the standard.

Click on the publication names below to see more of the media coverage this issue has received.

E! Science News

Medical News Today

Red Orbit

The Miami Herald

Boston Channel

Science Centric

Arizona's ABC Channel 15

CLICK HERE for information on ordering the full report from Pediatric Emergency Care.

CLICK HERE to read USGNN.com publisher Deb Levy's July 2007 editorial on the subject.

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