Can Window Film Prevent Future Wired Glass Incidents in Schools?

May 7th, 2014 by Editor

A $5 million (CAD) lawsuit has been filed against the Halton Catholic District School Board in Ontario, Canada, last week stemming from an incident last May involving wired glass. The installation of a security window film on such windows may help injuries and lawsuits.

As detailed in a press release from the law firm handling the case, Sean Lloyd, then an 18-year-old student at Assumption Catholic Secondary School in Burlington, Ontario, was on his way to class when he tried to push open a hallway door made up mostly of wired glass. Lloyd’s arm went through the glass, which broke and severely lacerated the muscles, nerves and tendons of his right arm. The injuries required major surgery and have left Lloyd with functional limitations and nerve damage that may be permanent, alleges the release. Represented by Michael Smitiuch of Smitiuch Injury Law PC, Lloyd is now suing the school board for negligence regarding the risks of wired glass.

The glass door Sean Lloyd’s arm went through has since been fixed but is still made of wired glass. (Photo credit: Smitiuch Injury Law PC)

The glass door Sean Lloyd’s arm went through has since been fixed but is still made of wired glass. (Photo credit: Smitiuch Injury Law PC)

“It was aware for many years, or ought to have been aware for many years, of similar previous incidents or circumstances where wired glass on school doors resulted in injury or harm to pupils and failed to take precautions or preventative measures to ensure that such injury or harm did not occur,” the allegations of the claim read in part, per official court documents.

The documents list a total of 22 allegations of negligence, including that the board “failed to apply proper glazing or post-production impact films to the wired glass within the Premises.”

So can window film dealers help schools prevent these sort of injuries and lawsuits in the future? According to several window film dealers, as a result of changing building codes, it makes for a consistent retrofit job.

“Wired glass was a great concept in its day. To deem it safe security film needs to be applied to both sides to pass code,” says Chris Hunter of Matrix Tinting and Restyling in Delmar, Del.

“I have an account with a local glass company in which they have me buy a roll of 3M Ultra film and keep it in stock just for them,” adds Keith May of The Tint Shop in Lincoln, Neb. “Then, once or twice a week they bring me loose pieces of wire glass that is being installed on security doors and such, in places like schools. Apparently GSA has changed its impact rating and the standard wired glass will not meet those new ratings, so instead of having to use more expensive glass, they retrofit the wired glass with the Ultra 400 film and pay me labor to install it on the units they bring to my shop. It seems to be working well for them.”

While the exact thickness of film used may vary by installer, most agree the thicker, the better.

“I have done a 12 mil with wet glaze; little overkill, but that was a client request,” adds Gerson Aguilar of CT Window Film and Tinting in Milford, Ct.

But applying window film to wired glass doesn’t necessarily mean that it meets the standards outlined in ANSI Z97.1-2009, a code which “establishes the specifications and methods of test for the safety properties of safety glazing materials (glazing materials designed to promote safety and reduce the likelihood of cutting and piercing injuries when the glazing materials are broken by human contact) as used for all building and architectural purposes,” says codes consultant Thomas Zaremba.

Testing for safety glazing in the United States requires an 18-inch 150-foot pound test (100-foot in Canada). In the U.S., manufacturers are required to state on the glass whether the glazing meets the test criteria for Class A or Class B.

“The problem you encounter with retrofitting film is that you do not know once that glass has been retrofitted with film whether that meets the higher impact standards or not. Just because you put a piece of film on it doesn’t mean it meets that standard,” he says.

“Often times, wired glass meets those standards by using film … But I don’t know of any glass manufacturer that would accept retrofitting film on glass that has already been installed on a door as meeting impact glass standards,” Zaremba adds.

Nick St. Denis contributed to this story. He currently serves as a contributing editor for Window Film magazine and assistant editor of its sister publication, USGlass magazine/

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