Shower Door Safety
In a previous article, we discussed the dangers of sliding doors, particularly those made of standard plate glass rather than tempered or safety glass.
A similar danger lurks in many bathrooms, in the form of shower doors.
Before the 1980s, many sliding doors were constructed using dangerous plate glass instead of the safer tempered glass (or, in rarer cases, laminated glass) used in newer doors. This is true of shower doors as well as exterior sliding doors.
Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than standard glass. When broken, tempered glass shatters into small oval pebbles without sharp edges
Laminated glass, seen most often in auto windshields, is produced by alternating layers of glass with layers of a protective, adhesive resin which traps the glass in place when cracked or shattered.
SHOWER DOORS ARE NORMALLY–BUT NOT ALWAYS–MADE OF TEMPERED OR LAMINATED GLASS
The 2010 California Residential Code contains regulations regarding glazing (glass) installed in bathrooms and other hazardous areas. Among these regulations:
– A requirement that each pane of glazing (including shower doors) must contain “a manufacturer’s designation specifying who applied the designation, designating the type of glass and the safety glazing standard with which it complies.” (R308.1) The designation must be “visible in the final installation.”
– A requirement that the designation be etched or sandblasted into the glass, in a non-removable format, unless the glass is of a type other than tempered glass. This is important for homeowners, because if your shower door does not contain a visible designation identifying it as safety glass, you need to find out what kind of glass your shower door contains.
HOMEOWNERS MAY BE LIABLE FOR INJURY OR DEATH RESULTING FROM BROKEN SHOWER DOORS
Ignorance is not an excuse to a homeowner’s liability if someone is injured by a hazard within the home. This includes shower doors. Make sure your showers and bathrooms are equipped with modern, safety glass or alternate types of shower enclosures designed to maximize safety.
Broken shower doors may cause serious lacerations, organ damage, or death. This hazard is increased in shower areas, because people using showers and bathtubs usually don’t have even the limited protection clothing may provide against cuts and other injuries.
BEWARE–EVEN SAFETY GLASS ISN’T 100% SAFE
Several recent news stories and articles have discussed the dangers of glass doors in showers. Standard plate glass represents a serious, known shattering hazard. Even safety-glass shower doors occasionally explode or shatter, injuring users and causing serious harm.
Although nothing can completely prevent a shattering door, and the injuries that result, homeowners can take steps to maximize safety in bathroom areas, particularly those equipped with shower doors. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Prevent horseplay and running in bathrooms and other areas where glass doors are present.
2. Always supervise young children around glass doors and in shower areas.
3. Check fasteners, seals, and panels on shower doors regularly. Make sure all fittings and fasteners are snug and properly installed.
4. Make sure doors do not touch or press against walls or metal objects when opened or moved. Contact with solid objects increases the chance of shattering and breakage.
5. Inspect doors regularly for chips, cracks, and other signs of damage. Replace damaged doors immediately, and do not permit use of showers with damaged doors.
6. Never put weight on shower doors or grab bars attached to doors, as this may cause the door to shatter.
Nothing can prevent all accidents in the home, and bathrooms are dangerous places. However, awareness, careful inspection and proper installation can help keep your shower door–and shower users–intact.
© Ross Law, 2014