Tragic accident reminds us of the lack of safety standards
Last week, an 11-year-old Providence, R.I. girl died after falling or jumping on a glass coffee table. A severe puncture wound to her leg caused her to bleed to death.
Each year an estimated 20,000 people, most of them children, are treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained from glass furniture. In an average year, three children die. The injuries can turn critical in moments. These grim statistics prompted Consumers Union to make a presentation to ASTM-International in late 2005 recommending that a safety standard be developed to address the hazard posed by glass in furniture. Three years later, a standard is currently under development.
This issue has escaped the attention of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an agency that could easily fix this problem. A requirement to use tempered glass in furniture would virtually eliminate all serious laceration injuries. The CPSC currently requires the use of safety glass in shower doors and storm doors, but not glass tables.
Some furniture manufacturers already use tempered glass for tables. It’s hard to distinguish tempered glass from regular, annealed glass until it breaks. As the accompanying video shows, tempered glass shatters into small pieces, whereas annealed glass breaks into large, deadly shards.
If you are shopping for a glass table, we suggest that you consider only those with safety glass. If you are not sure of the glass type, ask the retailer or manufacturer. And if you have young kids, remove any glass tables from the areas where they spend time. Or do what I did—remove the glass insert and replace it with an unbreakable material such as plywood or hardboard. It may not be as stylish but it could save your child from a serious injury.—Don Mays
I personally fell through a glass coffee table and thankfully didn't seriously injure myself! I had some bad cuts and deep bruises and consider myself lucky. I now have a wooden coffee table and will not buy any glass furniture again!
While I understand the concept of wanting to protect our children, I must question why would anyone purchase a glass table and then allow their 11 year old child to "possibly" jump on it. Even if she feel in such a way to puncture her leg, it seems to me that it was not really an accident.
Easy test for tempered glass
Using polarized Sun Glasses and a Laptop computer display, fire up the computer, get a white background (Notepad maximized),Put on the Sunglasses, Hold the blank between you and the laptop, look thru the blank at the screen, see any funny colors or patterns? If so its tempered, if its clear your good to go
I don't understand Scott. If it's colored, it's tempered & that's what you want. If it's clear, you don't want it. Is this what he means?
Any type of injury that could have been prevented is not an accident - this tragic death could have been prevented by manufacturers using tempered glass in products like this. And any parent can tell you that what a child does is unpredictable - whether that child stumbled and fell, or, jumped. . Probably the vast majority of us may not have even thought of the fact that a small table can be a hazard. The standards need to be changed.
In most cases you can replace the glass with a safety glass cut to the same size. You may even get a more decorative glass at the same time. There are reputable glass suppliers everywhere.
Unfortunately my husband & I are finding out about the hazards of owning a glass topped outdoor dining table measuring 2.4m x 1.2m (tempered glass-for "added safety")after the event. Bought 3 years ago with the assurance that with "proper" usage the table would be a suitable product to use as a family outdoor table,we looked after it with great care. Combined with what would be considered minimal usage,as we live alone & just had the occasional visitor to dinner,& a good deal of care to keep it clean etc. we did indeed treat the table in a manner we would consider as"proper". At 6am in the morning it shattered into thousands of tiny but sharp pieces! Surely too dangerous a usage for any type of glass - tempered or not? It took my poor husband 5 hours to clean up all the tiny pieces & we thank God our grandchildren were not visiting us at the time. The table in question was also fully under cover & not actually exposed to the weather. As this has just happened to us we are still trying to obtain consumer affairs information here in Australia also.It seemed relevant to add comment to your website as our table was imported from China also & we are all in the same boat when it comes to the inferior products being sold to us for use with our families. We will never buy another glass coffee table or dining table as we too consider glass carries too many inherent risks to be used in this manner,especially near children!
The CPSC could justifiably have acted a decade ago to prevent thousands of cases of suffering and disfigurement, immense expense, and a few unnecessary deaths. The trauma was less important to the Bush administration than the unrestrained freedom of commercial enterprises to exploit, even endanger, the public. Development and promulgation of an ASTM standard is a consensus process, slow and faltering. The net result is a voluntary standard. Mandatory regulation is needed. Providing such protection to the public is an inherent responsibility of government. Ours has been delinquent in that responsibility.