30 Apr 2016

Claims new glass safety standards are misplaced

8:46 am on 30 April 2016

Pressure to make new glass balustrades safer is misplaced, and any accident is most likely to arise from a lack of control over dodgy imports, according to some industry leaders.

Pool with glass balustrade (stock photo)

Auckland Council is pushing for a national ban on frameless toughened glass balustrades. Photo: 123RF

From 1 June, all new structural glass barriers a metre or more above the ground will need interlinking rails.

Even laminated safety glass will have to be designed to stop the panels falling out if they break.

GANZ technical adviser Allan Sage, who was also chair of the advisory body bringing in the higher balustrade standard, said it was a daily occurrence to see poor fixings or inadequate glass panels.

In some cases they had bogus safety markings, and a clamp-down was needed urgently on imports, he said.

Auckland Council pushed for the fast-track, but glass industry members have said it was too rushed - though they agreed on improving the standard.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson said it would have implemented the change overnight if the safety worries warranted it, but it still agreed with Auckland Council's push for speed.

However, a Glass Association of New Zealand (GANZ) spokesperson said the pressure was on the local industry but ignored the real threat from substandard imports.

Auckland Council building control manager Ian McCormick said while dodgy toughened glass imports were a problem, balustrades were not.

"Well look, we're not aware of any glass balustrades that have got glass that's not toughened or has got endorsements you can't rely on," he said.

"There's always a risk out there but certainly we're not aware of it."

GANZ executive director Stewart Knowles said that depended how closely the council wanted to look, and that a lot of glass was coming in that was "flying under the radar".

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