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Faced with such an obvious risk for injury and lawsuits, many building owners have already begun to evaluate their existing wired glass, and prioritize the glazing for replacement or the application of a safety film that will increase the impact-resistance. Here in the United States, the city of Eugene, Oregon, opted to proactively replace or retrofit all of the wired glass in their schools.

“After one or two injuries, it became clear it was more cost-effective to change out the old wired glass before it broke than to pay out on a settlement,” said Vicki Walter, a retired Oregon senator. “Most importantly, however, our school district valued the safety of its children over the cost savings of cheap, wired glass.”

Despite changing the International Building Code and slowly increasing awareness among specifiers, building owners, facility managers, and public officials, there is still much work to be done. There is a growing movement in Canada to prohibit traditional wired glass, but in other countries like Australia, it is still considered to be a form of safety glass; the risks it poses remain largely unaddressed.

The issue was perhaps best summarized by A. Elkin in his testimony as chair of the National Committee on Product Safety:

Hazardous Locations
 According to the International Building Code (IBC), “hazardous locations” are those most prone to impact from a building occupant. In terms of doors, safety glazing is required for the following hazardous locations:
glass in all* fixed and operable panels of swinging, sliding, and bifold doors;
sidelites or fixed or operable panels located with the nearest exposed edge of the glazing within a 610-mm (24-in.) arc of either vertical edge of the door in a closed position and with the bottom exposed edge of the glazing less than 1524 mm (60 in.) above the walking surface (IBC should be referred to for exceptions); and
fixed or operable panels that have an exposed area of an individual pane more than 0.8m[9 sf]), with the exposed bottom edge less than 457 mm (18 in.) above the floor and the exposed top edge more than 914 mm (36 in.) above the floor, and a walking surface within 914 mm horizontally of the glazing (IBC should be referred to for exceptions related to decorative glazing, a protective bar, or insulated glass).Additionally, safety glazing is required in many instances when:i
n close proximity to wet surfaces (e.g. pools, hot tubs, showers, saunas);in guards and railings; oradjacent to stairways, landings, and ramps.The requirements depend on the location of the glass, particularly the height above the walking surface.Each pane of safety glazing installed in hazardous locations must have a permanent identification mark that includes the manufacturer’s designation, the safety glazing standard with which the product complies, and the type and thickness of the glazing. The mark must also include information about the fire resistance characteristics of the glazing when applicable. One should look for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 16 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1201, Safety Standard for Architectural Glazing Materials, or American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z97.1, American National Standard for Safety Glazing Materials Used in Buildings, designations on the etching or label on the glass to determine if it meets the requirements for impact. There are wired glass products that have achieved the required impact ratings; each piece will be marked with the etching stating the level of impact-resistance.A suggested list of wired glass locations that should be reviewed, starting with those most prone to human impact includes:athletic facilities, gymnasiums, and basketball courts;
doors and sidelites that are not fire-rated—traditional wired glass has not been allowed by code in these locations for decades;
doors where the glass is behind or directly adjacent to the hardware, where impact is likely—especially high-traffic doors with closers;sidelites and large windows; andfire doors with smaller glass lites not adjacent to the hardware.*The exceptions to this would be lites in doors where a 76-mm (3-in.) diameter sphere cannot pass through the exposed opening, decorating glazing, glazing used as curved panels in revolving doors, and glazed doors in commercial refrigerated cabinets.