Volume 38, Issue 6, June 2003


Wired-Glass Opponent? 
Dear USG,
I read your March 2003 article reporting on the recent actions of the ANSI Z97.1 Accredited Review Committee (Z97.1 ASC) at its last meeting.

I appreciate that USGlass has done an outstanding job in keeping its readers apprised of the ongoing code developments in this area and presenting both sides of the debate. I would like to comment, however, on the recent reference to O’Keeffe’s as a “wired-glass opponent” in your March 2003 article (see page 24 in the March 2003 USGlass), because it suggests O’Keeffe’s opposes all use of wired glass, when that is not at all the case. As the member of the Z97.1 ASC representing O’Keeffe’s, I’d like to set the record straight on the company’s views regarding fire-rated wired glass and its position before the Z97.1 ASC. 

O’Keeffe’s position has always been that polished wired glass has its place as a fire protection product, but not as a safety glazing, and O’Keeffe’s opposes classifying and labeling it as one under a special Class C impact test. 

First, wired glass doesn’t have the characteristics of safety glazing as defined by ANSI Z97.1. Second, wired glass used in impact areas has proven to cause serious, permanent injuries, which public safety advocates now estimate at 2,000 per year in schools alone. Third, technology exists to make a fire-rated wired glass product meet the higher CPSC impact standards. Considering wired glass manufacturers recently conceded the first two points, and know they don’t have any technical basis to deny the third, I urged Z97.1 ASC members at the last meeting to reject a Class C safety glazing category for fire-rated wired glass.

O’Keeffe’s is not out to ban the use of wired glass as a fire protection material. Fire-rated wired glass has served a useful fire safety purpose for many years. It is not, however, a safety-glazing material, and O’Keeffe’s opposes creating a special Class C solely to classify wired glass as safety glazing under a lower 100-ft. lbs. impact test level that doesn’t protect anyone except children under the age of five from impact injury.

Contrary to what wired-glass manufacturers like to say about the Z97.1 standard, it is not just a materials test method, it is also a safety-performance specifications standard. By those terms, an ANSI Z97.1 label on a product shows that it was tested to the standard and possesses the performance characteristics of safety glazing (i.e., glazing that minimizes or 
eliminates the likelihood of serious cutting and piercing injuries when broken by human impact). 

O’Keeffe’s position before Z97.1 ASC and model building codes over the years regarding wired glass has been consistent, reasonable and well substantiated. O’Keeffe’s has never proposed to ban use of wired glass; only that it be held to the same impact safety standards as other glazing products and not the lower performance test rejected by the CPSC as inadequate to protect human impact safety. O’Keeffe’s substantiated the unacceptable field performance of wired glass under the lower standard, submitting significant evidence of horrible impact injuries. Public safety advocates have since built an injury record with expert data analyses, putting the number of annual wired glass injuries in the thousands. 

When wired-glass manufacturers admit wired glass isn’t safety glazing, you don’t have to be a wired-glass opponent to conclude it shouldn’t be classified as such by ANSI Z97.1— it’s a matter of common sense. Nor does it take a wired-glass opponent to find wired glass doesn’t possess the characteristics of safety glazing when impact results in severe lacerations and cuts severing arteries, nerves and tendons. Finally, O’Keeffe’s isn’t a wired-glass opponent for developing a new safety- and fire-rated wired-glass product and bringing it to market because it satisfies both fire and impact safety goals. 

Kate Steel 
San Francisco 


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