This Safety and Health Information Bulletin is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. The Bulletin is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, pursuant to Section 5(a)(1), the General Duty Clause of the Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
The purpose of this Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) is to inform employers and their employees of the associated hazards involved in cutting laminated glass using flammable liquids and of ways to eliminate or reduce the risk of injury such as:
Laminated glass, also known as safety glass, consists of two or more layers of ordinary annealed glass bonded together with a plastic interlayer, usually Polyvinyl Butyl. This interlayer keeps the outside layers of glass bonded even when they are broken, preventing the glass from breaking into large, sharp pieces, and providing some degree of sound insulation. Safety glass is often used for shop fronts and windshields. The thickness of safety glass can vary from approximately 6 mm to as thick as 50 mm for bullet resistant glass.
The practice of cutting laminated glass involves first scribing both sides of the glass with a glass cutter. Denatured alcohol or another flammable is then dripped into the scribed crack and ignited with a lighter or match causing the butyl substrate or interlayer to melt. The employee then uses a rocking motion to further separate the glass and completes the cut using a utility knife.
On September 17, 2004, the OSHA Allentown, Pennsylvania Area Office investigated an accident which involved cutting laminated safety glass using a flammable liquid. The accident resulted in second- and third-degree burn injuries to an apprentice employed at a glass installer. He was pouring alcohol from a partially full gallon container when the alcohol ignited and exploded. Apparently, a vapor trail of the alcohol ignited and then flashed back to the container.
The explosion knocked out a ceiling light and covered the employee with the remaining alcohol. The investigation revealed that the container had been compromised by a hole in the metal screw cap. The hole appeared to have been made with a nail (See Photos #1 and #2).
The factors that contributed to this accident included the use and alteration of a container which was not designed to safely dispense the flammable liquid, the lack of flame-resistant personal protective equipment, the lack of adequate ventilation, and the lack of proper instruction and supervision of the employee. In addition to this case, OSHA’s IMIS database identified eight other accidents where employees received second-and third-degree burns while cutting laminated glass. In two of these cases, the employee died as a result of his burns. During such operations, OSHA requires that containers be approved (29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2)(i)). When not in use, flammable liquids must be kept in approved covered containers (29 CFR 1910.106(e)(2)(iv)(a)).
During use there must be no open flames or other sources of ignition within the possible path of the vapor travel (29 CFR 1910.106(e)(2)(iv)(c)). OSHA also requires that employees wear adequate protective clothing appropriate to the risk and that they are adequately trained to safely perform the work (29 CFR 1910.132(a) and 29 CFR 1910.132(f); and 29 CFR 1910.1200(h)).
OSHA is concerned about the continued occurrence of these significant injuries in what appears to be a common work procedure. Due to the potential for employees to sustain serious if not fatal injuries, the use of flammable liquids to heat and cut laminated glass is discouraged and should be avoided. An emphasis should be placed on using alternate methods of cutting and ensuring that the following OSHA requirements and recommendations for hazard control are adhered to.
Minimizing the potential for serious or fatal injuries to employees is the primary concern of this SHIB. Using safer alternate methods, adherence to applicable OSHA regulations and following the safe work practices described in this SHIB will help accomplish this goal.
The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.