The recent spate of toughened glass shower screens, pool fences, balustrades and overhead glass spontaneously exploding in homes across the Australia and New Zealand has prompted the need to issue a safety warning to building and homeowners.
This year, two different Victorian apartment blocks have experienced exploding balcony balustrade panes. In Perth this June, a shower screen suddenly shattered while a four year old boy was taking a shower. Similarly, a Sydney mum called the ambulance in September 2016 after a shattered shower screen cut her three month old baby’s face. In Sydney this January two sisters, one eight months pregnant, were sitting next to a pool fence when it suddenly shattered. Shoppers at Robina Town Centre in Queensland were startled when a shopfront window unexpectedly exploded in June this year.
In New Zealand there have been a number of instances where glass has for no apparent reason to explode such as over an escalator in Wellington, entrance canopy glass in Christchurch and Dunedin.
Apart from physical impact or damage to glass edges, the most common cause of glass explosions in toughened (tempered) glass is a phenomenon called ‘Nickel Sulphide (NiS) inclusion’.
To protect employees, family, friends, guests and even passers-by from spontaneous glass explosions, Solar Gard and Speciality Window Films suggests the application of a safety film, which essentially creates a membrane that holds the glass together if it shatters.
Glass with applied Solar Gard safety film can be brought up to Grade A safety standard under Australian / New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2208:1996, Grade A safety glass in human impact situations. It is a very tough, clear polyester film less than 1mm thick with a safety-strength adhesive. The combination of film and adhesive helps hold the glass together if it breaks, so instead of pieces falling onto persons or property, they remain stuck to the film.
“The recent incidents of random glass explosions are alarming. While toughened glass is designed to fragment into small cube-like pieces when broken, it can still pose a serious injury risk as the cubes can ‘clump’ together and sharp edges can be present, says Mr Ross Eathorne Managing Director Speciality Window Films.
“There is no way of predicting which installed products in your home could fail,” Eathorne continues. “So when it comes to glass, it’s best to err on the side of caution because the risk of injury to anyone nearby is so extreme. Safety film presents a permanent, invisible and cost-effective solution to the unpredictable and dangerous threat of toughened glass explosion.” Says Eathorne
With the recent introduction of much tougher Health and Safety regulations in New Zealand, employers and property owners have a responsibility to provide a high level of safety protection
Homes, offices and government buildings around the world use safety film to help protect against broken glass from bomb blast, extreme weather or spontaneous explosion. It can be applied to any glass surface, internally or externally, and comes in a range of different colours and thicknesses (the thicker the film, the stronger the substrate it’s applied to becomes). Solar control, UV reduction safety film is also available.
What is Nickel Sulphide (NiS)?
Invisible to the human eye, NiS is a tiny particle that can form inside glass during manufacture. NiS particles naturally expand during the lifespan of the glass, and usually never cause a problem. Toughened glass is about four times the strength of normal glass. Its strength comes from a balance of tensile and compression forces put into the glass during manufacturing. Sometimes the expansion of NiS particles disrupts the balance of these forces inside the glass, causing spontaneous explosion of the ENTIRE pane.
Central Wellington Apartment building 12th May 2016
1- Christchurch Public Hospital February 2016
2- Willis Street Escalators September 2015
3- Dunedin mall March 2015
 Link to story and footage of the exploding glass balustrades in Carlton and Brunswick, Victoria, 2017
Link to story regarding the Perth shower screen incident, June 2017
Link to story regarding the Sydney shower screen incident, September 2016
Link to story regarding the pool fence explosion in Sydney, January 2017
Link to story regarding shopfront window explosion in Robina, June 2017
Distributed in New Zealand by:-
Specialty Window Films
3D/89 Ellice Road
Tel (09) 441 0040
Contact:- Ross Eathorne
About Solar Gard
Solar Gard positively impacts lives with products that protect, save and renew. Headquartered in San Diego, California, Solar Gard makes industry leading architectural and automotive window films, photovoltaics and custom coatings.
A division of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction markets, Solar Gard’s architectural solar control window films are proven carbon negative and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Solar Gard products are sold in more than 90 countries under the Solar Gard®, Panorama®, Quantum® and Solar Gard Armorcoat® brands. For more information, visit www.solargard.com.au
Located in 64 countries and with almost 200,000 employees, Saint-Gobain, world leader in habitat, designs, manufactures and distributes building materials, providing innovative solutions to meet the challenges of growth, energy-saving and environmental protection. World leader in high performance plastics, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is headquartered in Aurora, Ohio (USA). The company employs 4,500 employees in 16 countries. Its product offer includes films, foams, coated fabrics, bearings, seals and fluid systems. For more information, visit www.saint-gobain.com and www.plastics.saint-gobain.com.