Dortech was contacted by the client’s representative on a Primary School project, located on Street Lane, in Leeds. Concerns were raised in respect to the glazing works that had been carried out by a small, inexperienced Leeds based glazing company. It transpired that the respective glazing company had chosen to install 4mm thick, floor to ceiling height glazing to a first floor classroom, without any apparent consideration for the potential, serious safety issues such an inferior specification of glass could have in this area.
At the very least, barrier loads must be taken into consideration and the glazing system should be designed in accordance with the nature of use. A glass thickness of only 4mm’s will be very weak and susceptible to breakage from only very minor hard or even soft impacts. The risk of breakage from impact is increased for larger panes of glass.
In all instances, large expanses of glazing should be easy to identify with the introduction of either manifestations (etched, adhered or otherwise) and/or should incorporate a mid-height barrier typically in the form of a barrier rail or banister. These requirements are clearly identified in a number of building regulations and acts, including The DDA Act, and Approved Document N.
Our engineers were subsequently engaged to remove the glazing and framework to the screen in question and reinstall a more robust and appropriate solution.
Sadly, our team encounter many such instances in their day to day work, whereby budgets are tight, poor procurement decision are made and consequently inferior, unsafe solutions are installed. The initial cost may be cheap, but the long term financial impact, in addition to the safety issues posed on the building users and general public can be severe. Unfortunately the residing culture in the UK construction industry is to be buy cheap and these decision can often be made by individuals who simply do not have the knowledge, or expertise to know what questions to ask and what checks to make.