Wired Glass to be Barred From New Schools Constructed in Oregon

A potential safety hazard will be barred from new schools constructed in Oregon beginning this week.The state's Building Codes Division will end a long-standing exemption on Wednesday that permitted wired glass to be used in some locations.

The glass contains a wire mesh that slows the spread of fire but breaks more easily than laminate or tempered glass and can cause severe injuries.

Eugene businessman Greg Abel hailed the code change.

"The state of Oregon has taken a courageous step forward," said Abel, whose son punched his hand through wired glass while playing basketball at the University of Oregon recreation center and was severely injured.

"They were finally convinced that wired glass did pose a risk to the nation's children and children in the state of Oregon," he said.

For 25 years, wired glass was exempt from the strength requirements of other kinds of safety glass by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Abel said. Manufacturers received the exemption because wired glass was the only kind that didn't shatter in high temperatures.

While the wired mesh makes the glass look strong, the thin glass panels sandwiched around the mesh break easily on impact. The wire holds the glass shards in place where they can slice through nerves and tendons, causing permanent injury.

When laminate glass breaks, a polyvinyl layer keeps it from shattering. Tempered glass breaks into small beads.

Oregon's new rule applies to new construction and doesn't require building owners to retrofit existing structures. The rules have not gone unchallenged by makers of wired glass.

A California glass distributor and a British manufacturer of wired glass filed suit in Marion County Circuit Court on Sept. 3, seeking an injunction blocking implementation of the new rules. No hearing date has been scheduled yet.

Abel said a recent study of glass injuries by an Emory University professor found 2,500 wired glass injuries in a yearlong period to children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

600450 Wired Glass to be Barred From New Schools Constructed in Oregon glassonweb.com
Date: 1 December 2003
Source: Advocates for Safe Glass

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