Volume 48, Issue 2- February 2013


New ASTM Standard for Furniture Glass Could Help Save Lives, Reduce Injuries

As a result of numerous reports of deaths and injuries related to glass furniture breakage, in 2008 ASTM International began work on the development of an industry standard for furniture glass. After years of work, drafts and ballots, the long-awaited standard has been published. Titled “Glass Used as a Horizontal Surface in Desks and Tables,” the standard addresses “serious human injury and fatality incidents involving breakage of glass used in unenclosed horizontal surfaces in desks and tables.”

Henry Chamberlain of Allied Glass Experts in Kansas City, Kan., who served as the technical contact on the standard, ASTM F2813-12, expects it to “significantly enhance consumer safety,” and points out that minimal burden will be placed on the industry in response to the standard.

“The economic costs are not onerous, design freedom is not impaired [and] it does not establish any new test protocols or product categories,” says Chamberlain. “The specified glass products are immediately and abundantly available, so implementation can be completed in one inventory turn cycle.”

According to ASTM, “this specification is intended to minimize the likelihood of serious cutting and piercing injuries that may occur due to the breakage of glass used as a horizontal surface in desks and dining, coffee, end, display, mobile, outdoor and other types of tables.”

It includes a provision that all glass panels falling under the scope of the standard should be marked as “safety glass, safety tempered glass or laminated safety glass as appropriate.” Additionally, the glass should be marked as meeting ASTM F2813-12 by either the glass fabricator or the furniture manufacturer.

In addition, glass used in desks or tables (under 44 inches in height) must comply with ANSI Z97.1-2009.

Glass equal to or greater in area than 9 square feet must comply with Class A, and glass less than 9 square feet must comply with a minimum of Class B performance, according to the standard. The exceptions to the standard are glass fully supported by and bonded to a non-glass material and glass surfaces incorporating or constituting display screens.

“Ultimately the hard work that the furniture manufacturers did on this standard after the injury data was presented to them is very commendable and should lead to a reduction of cutting and piercing injuries sustained from the breaking of the furniture glazing defined in the scope of this standard,” says Julie Schimmelpenningh, global architectural applications manager with Eastman Chemical. “The main hurdle for the standard at this point since it is voluntary, is the adoption of the standard as corporate philosophy by the manufacturers and the education of consumers of the standard’s availability and benefit to their safety.”

Clarifying Differences in NAFS and Canadian Building Codes
The Canadian association of door and window manufacturers, Fenestration Canada, hosted a webinar late last year focused on building code changes. Jeff Baker, WestLab, conducted the webinar and began by outlining the National Building Code (NBC) of Canada and pointed out that one change is the incorporation of the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS).

“In the past you would have seen CSA A 440 cited,” said Baker. “But NAFS covers everything for windows, doors and skylights.” Storm doors, though, are not covered in NAFS.

However, it is important to know that in Canada there is a supplement to NAFS which has additional requirements, said Baker. For example, regarding the water penetration test, in the U.S. the amount of water is capped but not in Canada. “In Canada you have to meet infiltration and exfiltration as opposed to the U.S. where it is just infiltration,” said Baker.

“We have been working very closely with other associations including the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association to help companies understand that there are different requirements in the U.S. and Canada,” he added.

In the NBC, he said key sections for the industry are: Section 9.6—glass and 9.7—windows, doors and skylights. A change is that the glass requirements are now separated from doors, windows and skylights.

“One key thing is that in main entrance doors there are only four requirements,” said Baker. “Missing from that is structural load and water load. They have been omitted and we believe that was an unintended change and think that will go back in in 2015.”

Additionally, he noted that in the NBC, the minimum level of performance class required is R.

“A 440 only had one performance class while under NAFS there are four (R, LC, CW and AW),” said Baker.

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