HSE – Gov Laminated Safety Glass Discussion on Wiki

Health and Safety Executive / Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA)

Local Authority Circular

  • Subject: Glass Safety
  • Open Government Status: Open
  • LAC Number: 34/1
  • Keywords: Laminated Glass
  • Revised: August 2000
  • Review date: August 2005

To: Directors of Environmental Health/ Chief Environmental Health Officers of London, Metropolitan, District and Unitary Authorities and Chief Executives of County Councils.

For the attention of: Environmental Services / Trading Standards / Fire Authorities / Other

This circular gives advice to local authority enforcement officers



1 This circular alerts enforcement officers to the risk from the traditional methods of cutting laminated glass, using methylated spirits, and advises on more suitable methods.


2 Laminated glass is difficult to cut because of the plastic interlayer(s). The usual practice has been to cut both sides of a glass sheet precisely, pour methylated spirits into the crack and then to ignite. Whilst heating up the inter layer in this way allows the glass to be pulled apart easily, several people have been burned in recent years. Moreover, its is HSE’s opinion that burning “meths” in this way constitutes a breach of the Highly Flammable Liquids and Liquefied Petroleum Gases Regulations 1972, Regulation 15(1).


3 Several safer methods are available:

a) Special purpose laminated cutting tables. Both sides of the laminated glass are cut automatically, and simultaneously, and after moving the glass, a heater bar melts the inter layer. The glass is then parted manually. These devices cost between £10,000 and £60,000 (1990 prices) depending on whether extra tables are required, whether the plant is automated or not and the degree of flexibility.

b) Vertically-inclined saw frames, costing around £2,000 (1990 price). A small circular saw descends in the near-vertical frame, water-cooled, and cuts large sheets of glass in 15-20 minutes. This is a relatively new machine on the market, and is especially suited to thicker laminates with 2 plastic inter layers. On older models, modifications may be required to prevent water reaching the electrical components. c) A simple blowlamp or hot air blower. With a gentle flame, played carefully on the surface of the cut glass sheets, the inter layer can be melted without damaging the glass edges.


4 Although HSE has accepted the use of methylated spirits in the past, it is now considered reasonably practicable to use one of the alternative techniques

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