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Safety glass explained

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Safety Glass Information
David Howarth

Glass glazing is a rather common topic when discussing window replacements or home improvement but what I am going to talk about now is the safety of the glass and updated legal minimums that must be met.

The British Standard "BS 6262: Part 4: 1994 Code of Practice for Glazing for Buildings", has put into effect new requirements that must be met regarding glass glazing in any building to insure safety.

The main purpose of this standard is to insure that glazed glass used in "critical conditions" is safe. This means that in these critical conditions, glass must "break safely" and this can be achieved by using small panes of ordinary glass combined with thicker glass layers and protective screening.

Along with these "critical conditions," we also have "critical locations." So, what exactly is a "critical location"? Critical locations are defined as areas that are "at risk from accidental human impact" as defined by the Approved Document N of the Building Regulations 1991.

Specific examples of critical locations include glazed glass used in doors between the floor and 1500mm up from the floor as well as any glass that is within 300mm of the sides of the doors, most often referred to as side panels, along with any glass windows that are between the floor and 800mm off the floor level, and others.

So, what can you do to insure that this glass is "safe" as per government regulations? Well, the glass needs to be able to pass a series of tests and there are only a few types of glass that have withstood these tests and thus can be used in the "critical locations." Toughened glass that may seem like ordinary glass but has actually gone through a special heating process to toughen it can be used in these critical locations. This glass is much stronger than traditional glass and as a result, it is much harder to break. Laminated glass is also another option that many may want to consider. Laminated glass is made up of multiple layers of glass with plastic in between and are again stronger than ordinary glass. However, laminated glass is not as strong or expensive as toughened glass. A last option is wired glass that is made up of glass with a network of wires that run through it to add strength and stability.

Double glazing the glass or window is another popular choice, as while the emphasis is on the insulation properties, the fact that a double glazed window is made up of two panes of glass and not one means that it is roughly twice as strong as an ordinary one. This naturally means that it is more difficult to break, helping with safety around small children.

Glass strength is very important in these situations, both for safety and so that you follow the law so be sure to take the above regulation into consideration when considering glass for a new building or replacing glass.

David A. Howarth has been working in the home restoration and improvement business in the UK for over 20 years now, and enjoys writing about home improvement features such as PVCu windows and conservatories.

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