Glass panels at hospital shatter

Two glass panels that line the elevated walkways at Carlisle’s new £87 million Cumberland Infirmary have shattered, raining splinters down on to the atrium below.

Hospital chiefs say no-one was injured in the two separate incidents that happened a month apart on January 16 and February 21 but they have now prompted a full-scale investigation.An independent glass and glazing expert has been called in to carry out a detailed inspection of the glass in the building.His report is due at the end of this week.

Until the cause has been identified, all the glass in the hospital has been encased with a reinforced plastic containment system to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive in Preston, which is responsible for checking hospitals, said: “HSE was aware of incidents involving glass panels and appropriate advice about the matter has been provided to the hospital."

It is understood that the HSE has advised the hospital to carry out an investigation into the incidents because a chemical reaction may be occurring in the glass or their installation is faulty. It also suggested that the glass panels, which are already made of toughened safety glass, were laminated.

Alan Davidson, the trust’s acting director of estates, said: “We take this very seriously and as a first priority, we have worked with the appropriate parties to ensure the safety of all users of the hospital.

“We called in the installation company when the first glass panel shattered and was told this was a one-off and the likelihood of its happening again was 400,000 to one. The second glass panel shattered on February 21 so we informed the Health and Safety Executive and took immediate action as we are bound to a duty of care for our staff, patients and all visitors to this hospital.

“The whole issue is now being thoroughly investigated and an independent experts will inspect the balustrades and report.”

Teething problems have dogged the new hospital that was the first in the country to be built and opened in April 2000.

600450 Glass panels at hospital shatter
Date: 3 March 2004

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