Glass safety regulations for balustrade and balconies
It’s not exactly breaking news – if you’ll pardon the pun – but glass safety regulations were subject to significant changes some years ago and Neaco have encountered a shortfall in awareness amongst decision makers in the construction industry during specification consultations for our glass balustrade and balcony products.
BS EN 12600 superseded BS 6206 as the new European-wide performance standard for impact safety film for glass. The concept of safety glass has been around for decades but the application of standards became more complicated with BS EN 12600. It incorporates a more modern test – often informally known as the pendulum test – which defines the level at which glass will ‘break safe.’ Two ‘safe’ broken states are defined as follows: when there is no hole large enough to push a fist through (and only a limited amount of glass fragments come loose) or when the glass leaves no large, dangerous fragments after shattering.
The BS EN 12600 test involves the swinging of a weight from three drop heights into a standard-sized pane of glass and the point at which the glass breaks forms part of its classification. Class 3 (a 190mm drop height) equates to an adult pushing hard against the glass or a child running into it. Class 2 (a 450mm drop height) equates to a significantly higher impact than an adult walking into glass, but less than an adult trying to force through by running into it. Class 1 (a 1200mm drop height) is the most demanding classification, applied in testing glass for critical applications.
The standard also defines three breakage modes: Type A breakage characterised by large sharp edged fragments, Type B breakage characterised by the fragments being held together and Type C breakage characterised by the disintegration of the glass into small, less dangerous pieces. Type A is typical of annealed glass; Type B is typical of laminated glass and mirrors with a safety film backing; Type C is typical of toughened glass.
BS EN 12600 uses a three-part classification system forming a three digit code representing (in order):
- Strength as measured by the aforementioned drop height Class 1, 2 or 3
- the breakage type A, B or C
- The containment aspects of the glass when broken [or the highest drop height class at which the glass does not break or does not allow penetration – again classed as 1, 2 or 3]
For example, the toughened glass which Neaco use for our balconies is 1C1. For the first and third digits of a classification, 1 is better than 2 and 2 is better than 3.
Glass must pass Class 1 to comply for residential use and in areas where there is 1.5m of open space to one or both sides of a glass pane. The impact test requires ball weighing a minimum of 50 kg to be dropped into the glass from the aforementioned release height.
Glass which is classified as safety material meeting the performance criteria of BSEN 12 600 should carry an identifiable mark showing the level of safety achieved during test. If you’d like to discuss BS EN 12600 in relation to the specific requirements for your project, please feel free to contact Neaco’s technical team for some expert advice on 01653 695 721.