Several incidents of ‘exploding’ toughened glass in homes across Australia have prompted the Window Film Association of Australia and New Zealand (WFAANZ) to issue a safety warning to homeowners. Many cases have come to light including exploding balcony balustrade panes in two different Victorian apartment blocks, a shower screen shattering in Perth when a four-year-old boy was taking a shower, another shattered shower screen injuring a three-month-old baby in Sydney, a pool fence, also in Sydney shattering in close proximity to two sisters, and a shopfront window exploding at the Robina Town Centre in Queensland.

Glass can shatter or explode for reasons such as physical impact or damage to glass edges. Another common cause of glass explosions in toughened (tempered) glass is a phenomenon called ‘Nickel Sulphide (NiS) inclusion’.

While these spontaneous glass explosions cannot be prevented, the ensuing damage to life or property can be avoided through the application of a safety film, which essentially creates a membrane that holds the glass together if it shatters.

Glass with applied 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. Safety film is a very tough, clear polyester film less than 1mm thick with a safety-strength adhesive that holds the glass together in the event of breakage, preventing the pieces from injuring persons or damaging property.

Describing the recent incidents of random glass explosions as alarming, WFAANZ President Ally Cronan said that toughened glass was designed to fragment into small cube-like pieces when broken; however, it could still pose a serious injury risk from the sharp edges, especially when the cubes ‘clumped’ together.

According to Ally, it’s best to be cautious when it comes to glass as it can cause injury. Safety film presents a permanent, invisible and cost-effective solution to the unpredictable and dangerous threat of toughened glass explosion.

Safety film on glass is used in homes, offices and government buildings around the world as protection against broken glass from bomb blasts, extreme weather or spontaneous explosions. It can be applied to any smooth glass surface, internally or externally, and comes in a range of different colours and thicknesses as well as value additions such as solar control and UV reduction.

Professional window film installers who are members of WFAANZ abide by a strict code of practice, and can offer specific advice for each home or building’s unique safety requirements.