Tempered Glass: What Business Owners Should Know

Tempered glass is used almost everywhere; homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and buildings of all kinds contain it. Even your car windows are made of tempered glass. However, you may not be aware of what makes tempered glass special and when or how it should be used if you own or operate a business. Below is an introduction to tempered glass and what you need to know, including information on how to work around it safely:

What tempered glass is and how it is made

Tempered glass is one of two types of safety glass, the other being laminated glass. Tempered glass is manufactured by heating plate or annealed glass in excess of 500 degrees Celsius. Following heating, the glass is then rapidly cooled; this process of heating and fast cooling changes the molecular structure of the glass so it becomes harder and impact-resistant.

Along with its increased strength, tempered glass is also made for the purpose of protecting people from injury should it break. Instead of shattering into jagged, sharp shards, tempered glass breaks into small, blunt-edged pieces. This greatly decreases the likelihood of someone being cut should the glass be broken.

Why you should consider using tempered glass

While tempered glass does not have to be, and should not be, be used in all circumstances, businesses have an obligation to use tempered glass in structures at least some of the time. Below are some general circumstances that require the use of tempered glass:

  • Solid glass doors
  • Windows near an entrance or doorway
  • Windows within close proximity to the floor
  • Glass used as architectural barriers such as stairway railings and other features
  • Glass within a wet environment where slip hazards are present
  • Large windows
  • Skylights

Be sure you understand your specific province's building codes and regulations before installing glass. Reputable, licensed glass installers can provide you with up-to-date information and help make your installation safe and legal.

What you should know about working with and near tempered glass

Even though tempered glass is designed to be safe, there are still possible dangers for you and customers if your business fails to use caution. In addition, mishandling of tempered glass can lead to costly breakages. Below are a few guidelines to help protect both lives and financial bottom-lines:

  • Do not perform work on tempered glass – cutting, drilling and shaping of tempered glass must be done before it is heat treated to harden it. If you attempt to alter the physical structure of tempered glass, even something as innocuous as sanding, then it will likely break apart violently. Never drill or cut tempered glass; if you find your needs have changed, contact a qualified glass installer for assistance in ordering a new piece that will suit your business needs.
  • Be cautious when cleaning tempered glass or working nearby – even cleaning tempered glass carelessly can cause it to break. Be sure that any cleaning tools are blunt-ended and have no sharp points. Remove heavy rings or other personal items that might accidentally strike the glass sharply. If you need to do work near the glass itself, such as adjusting a screw in a door handle or installing blinds, remember that the sharp point of a screwdriver can cause the glass to "explode" into tiny fragments. Even though the pieces usually won't cut your skin, they can become lodged in your eyes. Therefore, wear eye protection to keep glass out of your eyes should a break occur.
  • Protect the corners and edges – Tempered glass is often manufactured with rounded corners and edges, but keep in mind that sharp edges and corners are trigger-points for releasing the built-in tension of the glass. Never allow tempered glass to make contact with anything solid on an edge or corner; even mild taps can cause it to shatter. Provide protection for unfinished edges and corners, such as framing or cushioning.

For more information, contact a local glass company like Glass Pro Commercial Storefront