“Glass panel explodes on balcony of luxury inner-Melbourne apartment building” is an article published recently in The Age whereby a toughened glass balustrade in a luxury apartment complex spontaneously shattered and rained down glass on the balcony below. Luckily no one was injured. A similar thing happened to ex AFL footballer Anthony Stevens when glass fell out of a window and left a 20cm gash across the corner of his mouth, causing him to lose two litres of blood. Just yesterday I spoke to a customer who bought a luxury 4 million-dollar house in Balwyn, only to find that every window in her double story house leaked when it rained, causing extensive damage to carpets and window sills in the process. I cannot count the number of times in the past couple of months whereby a customer has called up needing us to rectify a dodgy glass installation job or replace unsuitable glass.
It is suspected that the exploding glass panel in the inner-Melbourne apartment building occurred due too much nickel sulphide present in the glass, which has the tendency to pop or explode when exposed to heat or wind. This only occurs in cheap glass purchased overseas and imported into Australia, which clearly did not meet minimum Australian Standards for toughened glass (AS/NZS 2208 - 1996 Safety Glazing Materials in Buildings). Construction and glazing companies are too often drawn to imported glass due to its low cost and potential for higher profits but fail to consider the public’s safety in their pursuit of higher gains.
Barriers to entry in the glazing industry are low. It doesn’t take much for a one or two man team of unqualified labourers to create a fancy website, act as if they are qualified and start repairing broken windows. Unfortunately for their customers, poor installation practices live long after the job is complete. Our customer in Balwyn found this out the hard way and is now looking at thousands of dollars for repair works on top of their multi-million-dollar mortgage.
What is the solution to this problem? How do we ensure that customers don’t bear the pain of poor glass and installation practices? The Australian Glass & Glazing Association (AGGA) is the peak body representing glazing companies and is designed to lift glazing standards within the industry through safety compliance and skills training. However, it is not mandatory for all glaziers or glazing companies to join the AGGA, so what is stopping a couple of unqualified labourers trying to pass themselves off as glaziers and repairing your window?
Australian Consumer Protection Laws aim to protect customers from dodgy practices as well, ensuring that goods are fit for purpose and installation is performed with the proper care and skill required of a glazier. However, these protections only kick in once you’ve learnt of a defect and/or safety issue. It will then cost you time, effort and money to enforce the law through VCAT or the Courts.
While the AGGA combined with Australian Consumer laws offer some peace of mind, it is still largely a case of buyer beware in the glass industry. It is up to buyers to ensure they do their due diligence on construction and glazing companies to minimise any loss, damage or potential serious injury that may occur.
Here are some tips that may help you next time you want your window repaired or some new glass installed at your home or business.
Ensure that your Glazier is a member of the Australian Glass & Glazing Association. Look for the AGGA logo on their website or request to see evidence of membership
Request glass to be labelled to ensure your glass meets minimum Australian standards related to glass manufacturing (AS/NZ 1288)
Request a Glazing Certificate to ensure you have written documentation that glass is manufactured and installed according to Australian standards
Ask whether a warranty for glass and workmanship will be provided to ensure any potential defects will be rectified with minimal fuss. You should request a minimum 12-month warranty
Ask to see a company’s Public Liability insurance to ensure the company is covered for negligence causing injury or property damage
Use reputable companies that have been in the trade for longer or referrals from friends and family. Google reviews may help you validate a company’s reputation
Be wary when individuals say they can repair your glass on the cheap and ask to see their qualifications if you are not convinced.
Lachlan McDonough is a Senior Manager at Melbourne Glass & Aluminium Services. Melbourne Glass is a fully qualified and compliant family business based in Oakleigh with over 30 years’ experience, providing a wide range of glass and aluminium services for commercial and residential customers.
Feel free to contact Lachlan for questions or further information on glass replacement, aluminium windows and doors.
Phone: (03) 8585 9595
· The Australian Glass & Glazing Association- https://www.agga.org.au/
· The Australian Glass & Glazing Association- AS/NZS 2208 - 1996 Safety Glazing Materials in Buildings
· Australian Competition and Consumer Commission- https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees