As an experienced window repair contractor, you more than likely already understand how to safely handle glass. The concern I have is how do you share your knowledge and experience with new employees. The tips below can help members of your team get a better understanding of how to safely handle glass, and perhaps they can avoid an injury or two along the way. These same principles apply to homeowners as well, so if you are a do-it-yourselfer you may find these tips useful when handling glass at home.
Injuries from Broken Glass
Before I explain how to safely handle glass, let me first share some of the more common workplace injuries that are the result of exposure to broken glass. Without getting into too much detail; the most common injuries are lacerations, cuts, and puncture wounds. In extreme cases the result can be severed arteries, cut tendons, eye injuries, and in the most severe cases amputations. These injuries can also expose workers to disease and infections. With that said, I hope I have scared you enough that you will continue to read on!
How to Safely Handle Glass
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Virtually every task on a jobsite requires specific PPE for workers so they can complete their assignments in a safe manner. Working with glass is no exception. Work gloves should always be worn when carrying glass panels. Gloves with a heavy leather palm are best suited for this task. You should also wear eye protection to shield your eyes from shards of broken glass in the event you drop and break the glass. Hard hats aren’t required in all scenarios but are highly recommended in some instances, especially when working with larger windows.
How to Carry Sheets of Glass: Sheets of glass are much heavier than one would imagine. In most cases, this means you will need the assistance of a coworker to help you carry large sheets of glass. Before you pick up the glass make sure you have a clear path to your destination. Just like you would do with any heavy lifting, lift with your knees not your back, and avoid twisting your body.
Always carry the glass in the vertical position with one gloved hand under the bottom edge of the glass and then place your other hand towards the top of the end of the glass for stability. NEVER carry the glass overhead. If you were to carry the glass overhead and you happened to break it along the way, the broken shards would be falling directly on you. More than likely resulting in serious injury to both you and your coworker.
Clean Up: Sooner or later you are going to break some glass. Never attempt to pick up the broken pieces with your bare hands. The safe way is to corral the glass with cardboard or with a broom and dustpan. Tiny shards can be picked up with wet paper towel but you need multiple layers of paper towel and you should continue to wear your gloves.
Disposal: While it’s important to protect ourselves from the hazards of broken glass, we also need to think about the safety of others. Never dispose of broken glass in a standard basket or garbage can. Co-workers, who are unaware of the broken glass, could be injured when placing other trash in the receptacle. Glass should always be separated from other waste in the workplace. Wrapping the broken glass in heavy cardboard, and securing it with tape, is another good way to limit the exposure to others.