Handling glass has become a lot safer over the years. If you take your time, plan your job and use the correct safety gear you will be fine to do most standard jobs by yourself and handle glass safely.
Choosing the right glass
Using the right glass for the right job is the most important part. Check out the post on choosing the right glass to make sure you’re using the right type and thickness.
Using safety gear
When handling glass safety should be your first priority and the first thing you need to check is the edges, when glass is first cut the edge is very sharp, if the glass you’re handling has clean cut (sharp edges) then gloves are essential – one slip with this stuff and you will slice your hands.
Gloves should be thick enough to prevent the glass cutting through to your hand, yet flexible enough that you can feel the glass to know if its slipping. If you’re going to be doing a number of glass jobs it could be worth getting your hands on a pair of gauntlets (no, not that thing a knight throws down to initiate a duel) these are glazier’s gauntlets – each one is a foot long piece of fabric or leather that wraps around your forearm and usually has tough reinforcement on the palm side. They are designed to protect your arteries from broken glass, if you can’t get hold of some then welding gloves are OK and at the very least you should wear a thick long sleeved shirt, and maybe stuff a piece of cardboard under it.
If the glass you’re working with has blunt edges (this can be done by the glazier when you order the glass) then gloves are not as important, although you should wear whatever feels comfortable.
Small pieces of glass, no matter what the edge is like, should be held with two hands and kept away from your body. If the glass is bigger than a large book then it should be held at your side with one hand underneath and one hand holding and balancing the top. The reason for this is that you should be able to remove your hands quickly and safely if the glass breaks, throwing the glass away from you. Never hold glass above your head or tuck it under your arm, if it breaks you’ll be in the way! Always be aware of the glass you’re holding, making sure you don’t hit the edges on anything. One knock in the right spot and it can sometimes break easily.
Also be careful of wind, it can be the glaziers worst enemy, if you’re not comfortable picking up a piece on your own, find someone to help you or consider calling in a professional.
A lot of the glass you’re likely to be handling these days is safety glass, the two main types being laminated and toughened, if you follow my advice above it is almost impossible to seriously harm yourself using this stuff, compared to standard glass, which can break into sharp pieces.
I hope this has taken away some of the fear of working with glass, after all last time you broke a drinking glass did you phone a professional to pick it up for you? Of course not, so why is it the first thing everyone does when a window breaks? If you use your common sense, choose the right glass and take things slowly, you’ll be fine. Just don’t touch the sharp bits!
If you have any questions drop me a line below.