Safe glass handling and storage is essential for both employees and customers of commercial glass manufacturers. Necessary safety precautions and training should be implemented to reduce the risk of broken glass and potential injuries. Proper safety training also provides your customers with the peace of mind that their safety and the quality of their glass are always top of mind for each member of your team.
To better understand how to operate around and store glass safely, we will go through a bit of background on types of glass and then provide some basic tips for safely handling glass for manufacturers, fabricators, and installers.
Tempered Glass is Breakable
Most of the glass used for commercial purposes has gone through a tempering process to make it up to four times stronger than regular glass and is referred to as tempered glass or safety glass. The tempering process involves heating the glass to around 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and then cooling it quickly via cold air. The temperature change creates stress inside the glass while compressing the outside, resulting in a stronger material that is safer to work with. Additionally, if tempered glass breaks, the shards created are much safer to deal with than those from regular glass.
However, tempered glass is not unbreakable, and there are several scenarios where you may end up with broken tempered glass. It is essential to be aware of these to train and build safety processes around these in case they occur.
Damaged Tempered Glass
If tempered glass has any sort of damage, such as a scratch or chip, it can result in the glass spontaneously breaking at any point. When handling damaged tempered glass, extreme care should be taken because accidentally coming into contact with the corners or edges could cause breakage. Even cleaning damaged glass should be done with caution to avoid moving the glass and causing breakage.
Improper Handling of Tempered Glass
Even perfect tempered glass can be broken if mishandled. Tempered glass can break if it comes into contact with anything hard or sharp while being handled. If you are working with large pieces of glass, moving them incorrectly can also lead to breakage.
Nickel Sulfide Inclusions
According to the ASTM International Standards, some blemishes are permitted in tempered glass, including inclusions of nickel sulfide up to 0.100 of an inch (depending on the size of the glass). These nickel sulfide inclusions have been known to cause spontaneous breakage, but unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate them from forming or detecting their presence. U.S. glass manufacturers have made substantial efforts to remove nickel sulfide from their processes and have been able to almost completely remove it from their facilities.
Safety Tips for Glass Handling & Storage
Here are some basic tips for properly handling and storing glass:
- Safety glasses with side shields should always be worn when handling glass.
- Glass should be thoroughly inspected for damage that may cause spontaneous breakage before handling.
- Employ safe lifting and moving methods. Make sure you have a firm grip on the glass with both hands and lift from your knees. Do not lift the glass above your head.
- For larger pieces, use two or more people or a life-assistance device to avoid unnecessary stress on the glass.
- Never try to move more than one piece of glass at a time.
- Keep a wide perimeter around all edges of the glass, so it does not come into contact with any surfaces or objects.
- Use padding or cushioning if you need to place the glass on a hard surface.
- If you need to set the glass down, always do so on the long edge.
- When handling and storing glass, wrap it in blankets or padding to protect it against chips or scratches.