Wired glass. It’s been a mainstay in public buildings in the UK for many moons. Schools, gyms, offices, factories. All places which have glass with the thinnest grey wire. We all know what it is. It’s not the nicest looking glass in the world. In fact it can be the most dangerous. Check out this article, featured originally on rdnewsnow.com:

The Canadian General Standards Board is set to remove wired glass from its national building standards at the end of February, saying it isn’t safe “because it’s not impact resistant.”

“It can shatter when hit and cause lacerations,” Jacqeline Jodoin, senior director of the federal organization, told The Canadian Press.

The building standards are voluntary and “have no force of law,” she noted, but observers hope the removal of wired glass from the national guidelines will discourage its use.

Granted this is a Canadian article, but it’s worth reading. The article went on to describe a rather gory story of when wired glass does it’s worst:

For Tyler Dickie, the changes are long overdue.

In 2007, he was walking out of his Amherst, N.S., high school when he pushed open a wired-glass door and both of his arms crashed through. The jagged glass shredded his left arm, tearing his biceps and triceps muscles, cutting through nerves and severing an artery.

“The blood was unreal, it looked like a horror movie,” he said.

Students rushed to help stop the bleeding until paramedics arrived, he said. In the hospital, Dickie’s heart stopped beating and his breathing ceased — he was “vital signs absent” twice — as doctors scrambled to save his life, he said.

He survived, but his life was forever altered. He has regained about 80 per cent of the strength in his arm, but can’t play hockey, type on a keyboard and failed a physical when he tried to get into an underwater welding program, he said.

Read the original article on rdnewsnow.com here

In the US in 2006 they removed wired glass from it’s standards so it wouldn’t be used. Canada is taking steps to discourage it’s use. Given that there is still much of it around the UK, should we now be looking to get rid of it here?

Also, did you notice that Canada’s version of our Building Regs is voluntary?!

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Time to get rid?

Wired glass is very much the norm here in the UK. But I bet many haven’t given much thought to it once it’s broken. Thanks to the wire, it actually weakens the glass itself, rather than strengthening it. And, if you read the extracts above, it’s the metal wires that become the major problem to limbs and safety. This stuff is in schools.

This is one of those products where the more you think about it, the more you wonder why we’re still using it. Modern non-wired fire glass can easily do the same job, without the risk those metal wires bring.

It’s mainly used in the commercial sector, as a fire glass. I’ve personally never seen it used in the residential market. Still, wired glass comes into contact with many people every single day. With the US banning is, Canada discouraging it’s use, perhaps it is now time, probably when the next Building Regs revisions come round, to shelve it here too.

Personally, I wouldn’t just ban it from future use, but go one step further and change the law to start the ball rolling on changing all wired glass to non-wired fire glass. The advantage would be three-fold. First, it’s future use would be out of the question. All future works on buildings needing fire safety glass will use modern-day, safe equivalents. Two, the safety of those in buildings will be improved. Three, the enforcing of the changing of wired glass to modern non-wired fire glass would create a boost to the glazing sector. Everyone would win.

There are no hints about wired glass change in the UK, but it probably is time, now that Canada is doing something about it, to look at how we use it in the UK too.

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