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Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 14 On Glazing

Windows and Safety Glass Partitions at Work

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The Workplace (Heath, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Why bother about glazing?

Since 1975 the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) has required employers, the self employed and certain people who have control over workplaces to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by their work activities. So if glazing constitutes a risk, reasonably practicable measures need to be taken to deal with it.

The HSWA does not specifically mention glazing, but on 1 January 1993 the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 came into force to implement the EC Workplace Directive. Regulation 14 includes requirements for glazing which make explicit those that are implicit in the HSWA. The regulations apply to a wide range of workplaces including factories, offices, shops, schools, hospitals, hotels and places of entertainment. They do not apply to domestic premises used for work, or to construction sites. They have applied to new workplaces from 1 January 1993 and they will apply to all workplaces from 1 January 1996.

The duty to comply with the regulations will usually fall to the employer. However, people other than employers may be duty holders under the regulations if they have control of a workplace to any extent; such as owners and landlords of buildings used as workplaces.

Depending upon the tenancy agreement, particularly of a multi-occupied building, the owner, as opposed to individual employers, may be the duty holder responsible for complying with the requirements.

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What Regulation 14 requires

The Regulation requires that every window or other transparent or translucent surface in a wall, partition, door or gate should, where necessary for reasons of health or safety, be of a safety material or be protected against breakage of the transparent or translucent material; and be appropriately marked or incorporate features to make it apparent.

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What the duty holder needs to do

The regulation only expects action "where necessary for reasons of health or safety". So you need to assess every window or other transparent or translucent surface in a wall, partition, or door or gate to establish whether there is a risk of anyone being hurt if people or objects come into contact with it, or if it breaks.

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If there is no risk, no further action is required.

If there is a risk then action will be necessary to comply with the regulation to:

  • prevent people or objects coming into contact with the glazing, or
  • upgrade it so that if it breaks, it breaks safely, and
  • mark large expanses of glazing in some way so that people know it is there

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Assessing the risk

The assessment needs to take into account all relevant factors such as the location of the glazing, the activities taking place nearby, the volume of traffic and pedestrians, and any previous experience of incidents. Glazing in some locations may be a higher risk, such as:

  • in doors and gates, and door and gate side panels;
  • where any part of the transparent or translucent surface is at shoulder level or below;
  • in windows, walls and partitions, where any part of the transparent or translucent surface is at waist level or below.

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Taking action

What needs to be done will depend on the extent of the risk in individual circumstances. You may need to:

  • reorganise traffic routes (either for people or vehicles) to avoid the risk of glazing being broken;
  • put up suitable barriers or screens to prevent people or vehicles coming into contact with the glazing. The size or strength of the barrier or screen will depend on who, or what, needs to be kept away from the glazing;
  • modify the glazing to reduce the risk of injury eg, by applying a safety film which prevents it shattering in a dangerous manner, or by marking it to prevent people bumping into it;
  • limit the area of glazing;
  • replace the glazing with a safety material.

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Safety materials

Some examples of safety materials are:

  • materials which are inherently robust such as polycarbonates or glass blocks; or
  • glass which if it breaks, breaks safely, ie glass which breaks in a way that does not result in large sharp pieces; or
  • ordinary annealed glass which meets the following thickness criteria:

Nominal thickness Maximum size

8 mm 1.1 m x 1.1 m
10 mm 2.25 m x 2.25 m
12 mm 3 m x 4.5 m
15 mm Any size


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