Safety Glass in Brisbane

Gerry Whelan explains the differences between Wired, Laminated and Toughened Safety Glass. Archer Glass complies with the Australian Glazing Code AS1288 2006 for safety purposes.

Gerry explains the importance of complying with the said code. 

Wayne Bucklar:   Today my guest is Gerry Whelan. Gerry is the CEO of Archer Glass in Brisbane and joins us today to talk to us about “safety glass.” Gerry welcome to the program.

Gerry Whelan:   Thank you Wayne.

W:   Now Gerry we’ve talked before about safety glass and I understand that it’s critically important in preventing injuries. And not too long ago I heard there was an Australian injured in I think Bali where he’d fallen through a shop window and cut an artery. Now this I gather is what safety glass stops happening.

G:   Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s about – human impact. That if there’s danger at somebody could be mistaken for walkway and walk through it should be safety glass. And with the Australian glazing code that is how it is, that we’ve got to put safety glass in those situations.

W:   Now are there different types of safety glass or is it all the same thing?

G:   Yeah, we have a Grade B Safety Glass which is the old “wired type glass,” we have two types of Grade A safety glass which is “laminated safety glass” and “toughened safety glass.” I have a sample of that laminated safety glass here which is a Grade A safety glass and hopefully you could see it on the camera there how it breaks like your front car windshield. It holds together, it doesn’t fall out so if somebody did walk into it there’s a good chance that it will hold them back and certainly they won’t be cut or injured. The old or as everybody saw before just cracks and breaks but the wire have it together which is a Grade B safety glass. And it’s still used quite extensively and it does do quite a good job but it is grade B safety glass. The other safety glass is toughened safety glass which I have some here, in broken pieces you can see it shatters into tiny pieces. You’ll see each of the piece within that as it falls down will just come apart and fall away and not cause a major injury although it could cause little scratches. But it’s safe to walk into, it doesn’t break in those large shards with sharp edges that cause these types of cuts that you talked about and injuries and that yeah.

W:   Now if we take them one at a time, the wired safety glass. That wire is actually manufactured inside the glass, is it?

G:   It is yes, like an old day like chicken wire stuffed in as one and there that was stall that square like one, which has the little squares and it’s embedded within the glass and it holds the glass together. And it was used a lot in louvers, factories places like that those kind of situations but it doesn’t look very attractive. So that’s why it was held to those industrial type areas and was replaced with the laminated.

W:   Now the other two types glass you mentioned the laminated and the toughened, was it?

G:   Yeah.

W:   Now they just look like ordinary glass.

G:   They do. You can just look straight through. You can’t see the difference in them until it actually breaks. The laminated is the two sheets of glass laminated together with a clear sheet of like an interlayer in the middle and the film sheet then that holds the glass together once it breaks.

W:   Now Gerry when they manufacture that, do they have to manufacture it to size like can you cut that glass once it’s made?

G:   The laminated, yeah, we can buy it entirely and stock it in stock sheets and we cut it just according to each job, it has to be cut on both sides. But yeah, it’s cut normally in the factory here for use on the jobs. But the toughened on the other hand is cut first and then put through the toughening process which it’s put through, brought up to high temperature and then cooled down quickly and this causes that toughening to take place, in that it won’t break and it afterwards. But once it’s been toughened it can’t be worked anymore.

W:   I see. Now why would you use one rather the other?

G:   You might choose the toughened safety glass where it’s out in the full sun and it can take heat, but it won’t crack in the heat and in shower screens it’s lighter etc. But we tend to use laminated mostly now in all situations unless we’re going to put a film which will trap the heat of the sun and cause the laminated to crack. Whereas the toughened will stand up to the heat even with film on it, it will absorbs the heat, it doesn’t break. So we’re using that in those situations.

W:   There’s more to safety glass than meets the eye if you’ll forgive the pun?

G:   Yeah there are few things that you need to know where you can use different ones in different ways for safety.

W:   Now with the laminated glass, you were saying you can cut that from stock sheets in your factory. The lamination that’s in that, does it last a lifetime? Is there any issue with the lifetime of a glass given that it’s got a plastic lamination in the middle of it?

G:   No it lasts long time there are situation in shower screens where if the water gets in around the edge past the frame and pass the rubber sealed, after several years 15-20 years you might get some edge create we’re the edge starts to break down. Or if you use the laminated say in a frameless situation externally, the same with the weather can happen. The laminate starts to break down in around the edges that’s why in those situations, again, toughened would be used to avoid that and get that lifetime warranty in place.

W:   And Gerry is there a price difference between the two types of glass?

G:   Very slight price difference, it’s not huge. And it depends then on thicknesses and other processes that are used, like for instance in some of the frameless glass then holes need to be drilled through for fitting brackets to hold it in place etc. So that it adds to the price there whereas laminated would be most likely just clamped or fully framed.

W:   I see.

G:   A cut in price a bit on that, but the products themselves – a bit of a difference between toing and froing you know but not huge.

W:   Yup. And with the toughened safety glass Gerry once that’s been toughened and it can’t be worked anymore does that mean you can’t then put holes in it? You need to put the holes in before you toughen it?

G:   Yes. The full process is done, holes drilled, edges polished, cuts sized etc. all done and then it goes through its toughening process.

W:   And is that a long processes? Does it take a long time to get that sheet of glass toughened?

G:   Toughening without drilling or without edge work is normally 2 to 3 working days, then depends on how much work is involved how many holes, drilled, shapes etc. might be 5 to 7 working days.

W:   So it’s still quite quick then.

G:   Yeah, it’s still quite quick yeah.

W:   Gerry I understand that there is a risk if you have a commercial property or a rental property that doesn’t have safety glass to meet the standards, that you may be liable?

G:   Yes it’s incumbent upon the owner of the building to provide a safe and to code the building for their tenants. And then if there’s something happens, then yes that the owner can be held liable for an injury.

W:   Is it easier to tell if the glass is safety glass or not? Is it something that you can do as a novice or do you require a glazier to help you out with that?

G:   You would require somebody who’s certified to check the building and check the glass. And then of course we provide that service but then of course we provide you with the certificate to say that your glass does comply or if some doesn’t, we will quote to replace what isn’t and to be brought up to code and then obviously people might just say to get some other quotes as well following that.

W:   And I presume given that this can be a life threatening circumstance, I presume that insurance is not going to help you out if you’re not in a compliant building, I doubt your insurance would cover you?

G:   I doubt it too. I wouldn’t know for certain but I think people would need to check that they’re covered if it’s found to be not to code and maybe they weren’t aware but then maybe it’s their responsibility also to make themselves aware.

W:   Make themselves aware, yes. I can understand how it would certainly be considering and if you’ve got a rental property or a house you’re about to rent, that it’s worth the effort to get it checked before you run the risk of becoming liable.

G:   Yeah for peace of mind at least, if somebody moves in with young children etc. at least you have a peace of mind to know that you’ve provided everything you should have and that they should be safe.

W:   Yes. Gerry thank you for being with us today, let me just see if I can recap. We’ve talked about safety glass, we have wire reinforced glass, we have laminated glass, we have toughened glass. These are all required in different circumstances according to the kind of building they’re going to be used in to avoid liability that arises from having a non-compliant building.

G:   Yes, that’s correct. It has to be glazed to the Australian code AS1288 2016.

W:   Gerry Whelan of Archer Glass in Brisbane, thank you very much for your time today.

G:   Thank you Wayne. Talk to you soon.