WorkSafe Victoria issues safety alert to ECEC about glass panels and child impact
An alert about the risks associated with glass panels breaking from child impact at early childhood education and care (ECEC) services has been issued by WorkSafe Victoria after a serious incident in which a young child was leaning against a window which then dislodged and shattered, resulting in hospitalisation for the child who sustained a severe laceration.
Following the incident, WorkSafe Victoria conducted visits to a number of ECEC services, observing in the process many windows and doors with glass panels or inserts that may be a safety risk. Glass panels in schools and early childhood and care services, WorkSafe Victoria said, can be particularly vulnerable to human impact, for example, when a person mistakes a fixed panel for a doorway or opening.
To mitigate the risk, the regulator recommended attention be paid to The Australian Standard (AS 1288-2006 Glass in buildings – Selection and installation), which sets out the procedures to select and install glass in buildings subject to wind loading, human impact and special applications such as overhead glazing, balustrades and glass assemblies.
In education and care services in particular, WorkSafe recommends that duty holders comply with AS 1288-2006 and also:
- arrange for a glazier to attend the ECEC service to audit all windows and glass doors and identify which windows and doors conform with marking requirements, such as opaque or translucent strips designed to alert a person that there is glass
- replace or protect glass from impact in medium or high impact zones if it does not have a legible and permanent marking that identifies it as safety glass
- fit safety glass or thicker annealed glass in areas of a building which are prone to human impact. The likelihood of a person receiving cutting or piercing injuries will be minimised by the increased thickness or characteristics of the glass
- ensure people know where glass is located by making it as visible as possible. For example, use stiles, bars or by making the glass opaque
- if glass in a door or side panel is not obvious, mark it to be visible
- treat glass with a product that prevents glass from shattering if broken
- guard glass with barriers that prevent children from striking or falling against the glass
- regularly conduct inspections of the workplace, including all areas with glass.
WorkSafe strongly recommended that the risk control measures outlined above should also be considered when designing an early childhood education and care service. This includes all indoor and outdoor spaces and structures and taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of injuries that can result from glass breakage.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.
Further information is available through reviewing the Australian Standards in relation to Glass in buildings – Selection and installation (AS 1288-2006) Safety glazing materials in buildings (2208 – 1996) and Windows and external glazed doors in buildings (2047 – 2014)