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Glazing in the Workplace [Hardfacts]


Glass and glazing is a common feature of almost every workplace, from offices to factories, in farm buildings and the welfare units on construction sites.  Most typically this glazing will be formed of glass, in one form or another, but it may consist of plastic materials too. (Note: For the sake of brevity within this fact sheet the term 'glazing' is used in place of 'transparent or translucent surface'.)

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 place various duties on owners or occupiers of workplaces. Regulation 14 relates to risks posed by glazing to persons in the workplace and states that:

Every window or other transparent or translucent surface in a wall or partition, and every transparent or translucent surface in a door or gate shall, where necessary for reasons of health or safety:

  • Be of ‘safety material', or be protected against breakage of the transparent or translucent material
  • Be appropriately marked or incorporate features so as, in either case, to make it apparent.

This regulation applies to all workplaces with effect from 01/01/96, irrespective of when a particular piece of glazing was installed. It aims to ensure that glazing will not create a danger to persons who may collide with it by accident, or through it not obviously being present e.g. an unmarked full height glass partition.

What Do You Need to Do?

For any new glazing that needs to be installed, the use of competent contractors &/or the process of obtaining building regulation approval - where applicable, will usually ensure that suitable glazing is specified and supplied. However, if you are at all in doubt, your contractor should be asked to confirm the position.

When it comes to all existing glazing, you should aim to identify its type/nature and undertake an assessment of the risks of persons coming into contact with it and the possibility of them sustaining injury. In concluding this assessment, steps may need to be taken to ensure that non-compliant glazing receives suitable remedial attention to ensure that it complies with Regulation 14. Again, the use of competent contractors is advised.

However, whilst Regulation 14 applies to all glazing (with limited exceptions - see below), by making reference to BS6262 which defines certain higher risk areas, termed ‘Critical Locations', you are required to give priority attention to:

  • Glazing in doors and gates below shoulder* level
  • Glazing in side panels or windows adjacent to a door or gate, if within 0.3 metre distance and below shoulder* level
  • Glazing in windows, walls and partitions below waist* level

*Note. Shoulder level is taken as 1.5 metres in height, and waist level 0.8 metres. If any part of the glazed area falls within these zones, the whole of that piece of glazing must comply.

The glazing excluded from Regulation 14 is:

  • Glazing in panes less than 250 mm wide, as measured between glazing beads
  • Glazing to windows, walls and partitions (but not doors) in greenhouses - as it is considered that persons will be clearly aware of the presence of such glazing and be likely to avoid contact.

Remember, if 5 or more people work within the premises the findings of any health and safety related ‘Risk Assessment' should be recorded, e.g. as part of your health and safety policy.

What Are Your Options

If existing glazing does not comply with the necessary requirements you have several options:

1. Improving the Glazing

BS 6262 (not to be confused with similarly numbered BS 6206) sets out guidance on areas of glazing required to be "safety glazing". For example, in "Critical Locations" glazed panes less than 900 mm wide in doors and door side panels/adjacent windows must meet a minimum of BS 6206 (Now BSEN 12600) impact Class C(3) and Class B(2) if wider.  Window glazing in "Critical Locations" must meet at least Class C(3).  If existing glazing does not comply with the necessary requirements you have 2 options.  

REPLACING GLAZING: In most cases the best course of action will be to replace non-compliant glazing with safter materials, that is:

  • A form of ‘safety glazing', i.e. one which, if it breaks, breaks safely, e.g. does not break into sharp pieces
  • A material that is inherently robust/resilient against breakage, e.g. glass bricks or polycarbonate or similar plastic sheet materials

Until 2002, performance standards for ‘safety glazing' were set out in BS 6206 with products having to pass one of three classes of impact test, A, B or C (with Class A providing the best protection). After 2002 BS6206 was replaced by BSEN 12600, which has thre broadly comparable classes, namely 1, 2 and 3 used either side of tyupe of glass codes A (Annealed "float" glass), B (laminated) and C (toughened) e.g. under BSEN 12600 "1C1" indicates the safest form of (toughened) glass.

BS 6206 (and now BSEN 12600) required safety glazing to be permanently marked to indicate its type, as well as it's impact class and manufacturer. The type codes used BS 6206 are  ‘L' for Laminated, ‘T' for Toughened and ‘SFB' for Safety Film Backed. Under BSEN 12600 the corresponding letter codes are B, C and AF.

In general terms, if glass is not already marked with a BS 6206/BSEN 12600 type code, toughened glass is likely to meet Class A (C) and  most laminated glass will meet Class  B (B).Note. Wired glass, sometimes called Georgian wired glass, is primarily designed to provide fire resistance. Whilst it is inherently more robust than ordinary float glass, it is not usually manufactured to meet BS 6206/BSEN 12600. In some circumstances it may nonetheless be regarded as being of sufficient robustness to satisfy the criteria of ‘safety materials' used in Regulation 14, i.e. if it breaks, it breaks safely.

Ordinary ‘annealed' or ‘float' glass, which falls within the following size parameters, will usually also be considered safe:

Thickness                Maximum Size
8mm                       1.1m by 1.1m
10mm                     2.25m by 2.25m
12mm                     3.0m by 4.5m
15mm                     Any size

Before reaching any conclusion about the impact performance of glazing not bearing BS 6206 specified marking, the advice of the manufacturers or a competent glazier, should always be sought on its likely impact performance.

ENHANCING GLAZING: In some cases it may be possible to upgrade the safety performance of the existing glazing by means of an applied plastic safety window film that will provide the level of protection otherwise required by BS6206/BSEN 12600.

2. Protecting Glazing from Impact

In some cases glazing may be capable of being protected from impact by providing a permanent screen or barrier, i.e. to prevent a person coming into contact with the glazing. Any such barrier must:

  • Be of robust construction
  • Prevent the passage through any openings within it of a sphere greater than 75mm diameter, i.e. an assumed human hand
  • Be difficult to climb

Alternatively you may be able to reduce the impact risk by reorganising activities in the vicinity of the glazing, e.g. moving pedestrian traffic routes away from the glazing. That said, this can be difficult to achieve with certainty, and is best considered a supporting precaution to any of the aforementioned measures.

Make Glazing Visible

In addition to any of the above measures, you should also consider the need for what is termed ‘manifestation', i.e. surface marking of transparent glazing to make people aware of its presence.

This usually needs speical consideration only where large uninterrupted areas of glazing are present, particularly if the floor levels are the same both sides and a person may think they can walk straight through. Where features such as frames, door handles or tinting etc make the presence of a glazed area apparent, then further marking may not be neccessary.

The simplest form of manifestation is to apply suitable "marking" to glazing, which can take many forms; e.g. applied lines or patterns or a company logo, etc the main requirement being to ensure it is permanent, conspicuous and at head height/eye level.   

Key Action Steps

Consider the following:

  • Is there a risk of bodily contact with glazing, particularly within the outlined higher risk zones?
  • What sort of glazing is currently installed, and is it regarded as a ‘safety material'?
  • If not a ‘safety material', what needs to be done to make it safe?
  • Will proposed changes to glazing improve or reduce security? See our Security Glazing ‘Hardfacts' in the ‘Knowledge Store' for further information
  • Is all transparent glazing apparent, i.e. clearly marked or identified?
  • Has a schedule of any required remedial works, ideally prioritising identified higher risk areas, been drawn up and if so what steps are required to ensure it is implemented?

Sources of Further Information

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

BS 6206:1995 - Specification for Impact Performance for Flat Safety Glass/Plastics for use in Buildings

BSEN 12600: 2002 - Glass in building, Pendulum tes. Impact test method and classification for glass.

BS 6262: 1982 - Code of Practice for Glazing for Buildings - Part 4 safety related to human impact.

The Building Regulations  - various versions for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland - see sections relating to Glazing/Safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning.

Workplace Health and Safety - Glazing IND 212. HSE Leaflet.

Glass & Glazing Federation Tel 0207 939 9101 or see

British Standards Institute Tel 0208 996 9000 or see

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Books. Tel 01787 881165 or see

Next Steps:

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Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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