Hill Hears Discussion on Wired Glass
Wired glass was the topic under discussion on Capitol Hill yesterday,
during a symposium on the use of wired glass in schools. The symposium
was organized by Greg Abel, founder of the not-for-profit organization
Advocates for Safe Glass, with support from U.S. Senator Gordon
H. Smith, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Peter DeFazio,
and held in conjunction with Americas Glass Association and the
Fire and Safety Glazing Council.
Walker represents the first state in the United States to adopt
International Code Council safety regulations limiting the use of
wired glass in hazardous locations in schools, gymnasiums, etc.
The regulations are intended to prevent injuries to children from
breaking wired glass.
"This nation is in a new school building era
be able to ensure that schools of the future will not be using wired
glass," said Walker
She noted that her next concern was addressing wired glass already
in place in older school buildings. A bill has been proposed for
the appropriation of funds for retrofitting glass in schools. Walker
offered another possible solution for replacing wired glass.
"What I want is a pool of money that the [wired glass] manufacturers
have to pay into," Walker said. "That's my goal, to at
least have some kind of fund set up
so we can start retrofitting
also advocated establishing independent third-party testing of wired
glass and changing the National Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)
code used in hospitals, which currently doesn't discriminate between
injuries from glass and wired glass. The change would help to track
those types of injuries.
Ellen Schmidt, MS, OTR, national outreach coordinator of the Child
Safety Network, spoke in support of tracking injuries from wired
glass. She noted that information on the occurrence of injuries
from wired glass isn't widely available except as anecdotes.
"This is a significant issue that affects many children
but we're really not sure how many," Schmidt said.
She recommended that more schools work to form a reporting system
for school-place injuries, although she added that many districts
aren't aware of this problem.
"There's a lot of people who just don't know about it [wired
glass injuries] and what they can do about it," she said.
Ontario School Boards' Insurance Exchange (OSBIE), however, has
set up a tracking system for school injuries, according to Teresa
Drijber, claims manager for the not-for-profit organization. She
explained that all schools in Ontario must file a report about injuries
so that OSBIE can offer risk management solutions.
Drijber said that since 1987 OSBIE has tracked approximately 81
glass breakage incidents, and about 40 claims payments. She noted
that some of those claims do end up going to trial.
Attorney Kenneth Lumb of Corboy and Demetrio has represented victims
of wired glass injuries, with three such cases pending.
"The people who are putting [wired glass] in now that the codes
have changed, it's almost like a strict liability case," said
He added that the standard of care to which building professionals
are held in court isn't just to do what another reasonable professional
would in the same circumstances, but also to have the knowledge
of what a reasonable professional should do. He said that with more
laws being passed limiting the use of wired glass, building professionals
could be held to those standards.
"The codes are not the be-all end-all in a civil case,"
Dale Santee, AIA, CSI, a principal in the Architectural Studio,
offered an architect's perspective on why designers specify wired
glass in their projects.
"Why do we put glass in the buildings?" he asked. "For
He said that many of his clients request this form of "passive
security" in hallways and stairwells, and that wired glass
for some time was the only available option for these areas. He
added that despite its drawbacks--he noted aesthetics and impact
resistance, for instance-the low cost of wired glass compared to
alternatives has kept it as a viable material for designers.
Leonard Brunette, president of Vetrotech Saint-Gobain, offered the
assemblage some information on the alternatives to wired glass available.
He explained that ceramic glass withstands both high temperatures
and rapid cooling, but by itself is not a safety glazing material;
window film must be added or it should be laminated. He also said
that intumescent products are safety-rated and resist heat transfer.
"We're working now to create an educational program we can
get to the code officials and the industry about the new products
available," said Brunette.
He added, "The [glass] industry as a whole has heard these
issues, and they're very concerned."
For more information on the wired glass symposium, see the November
issue of USGlass magazine.