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FGIA: A safety plan made for the glass industry

Observing proper glass handling techniques is a major aspect of safety in any workplace where large volumes of glass are handled daily.

August 25, 2022  By Amy Roberts

To prevent accidents, every plant should establish a safety culture that combines training with enforcement. To facilitate establishing such a culture and implementing an effective preventive program, FGIA has developed the publication IGMA TM-5000 Do’s and Don’ts of Glass Safety, a compendium of safety assessment procedures and safety measures for every stage of a glass fabrication operation. It is based on ASTM E2875 Standard Guide for Personal Protective Equipment for the Handling of Flat Glass and recommendations from the U.S. OSHA and the National Safety Council as well as the direct experience of FGIA members.

The goal of the safety program is to provide a framework for an insulating glass manufacturer to develop a safety program in their own unique facilities. This framework includes the typical insulating glass fabrication facility flow chart with internal references to the relevant sections within the manual: hazard risk assessment, which includes identification of hazards germane to each job and workstation task; assessing the level of severity and probability of occurrence for each risk; prioritizing; identifying appropriate controls; and monitoring results. Example assessment forms are provided. It also includes recommendations for PPE for each operational section and best practices for material handling, such as the appropriate way to carry glass. A table is also provided indicating the weight of a glass sheet given its dimensions and thickness. It also shows those weights considered safe for handling by an individual and those that require a team or mechanical equipment to lift and move. It includes other potential safety issues, such as what to do when there is broken glass in the middle of the glass pack and conducting periodic safety audits that include reviews of records and a system to correct deficiencies.

Recommended PPE and a list of best safety practices are listed for each step of specific operations: glass receiving and storage; tempering furnace, cutting; seaming and washing. A table of hazards is given for each step of the operation. 

Developing a thorough safety program begins by establishing management policies and procedures for assigning responsibilities; establishing work practices through job safety analysis and preventive maintenance; implementing a training program; establishing a means of reporting and reviewing observed hazards and accident near misses; and conducting safety audits.


“Do’s and Don’ts” summaries are given for:

  1. Housekeeping and walkway safety (visitors and plant personnel) 
  2. Use of glass racks pre- and post-assembly 
  3. Working around moving vehicles and robotics 
  4. Receiving new glass shipments and storage 
  5. A glass-movement optimizer for within the plant between work stations 
  6. Insulating glass unit assembly (including proper handling of desiccant, spacers, and sealant) 
  7. Racking, packaging and shipping 

The manual also includes a safe practices for glass handling checklist, suitable for posting in the workplace. It covers how to hold, carry and securely store sheets of glass; handling of broken shards; and awareness of the surroundings and potential issues. Other working examples include a sample job safety analysis and a glass-handling checklist.

Observing proper glass-handling techniques is a major aspect of safety in any workplace where large volumes of glass are handled daily. FGIA suggests that by using TM-5000 as a roadmap, each manufacturer can evaluate their own operation and develop safety measures to ensure a safe work
environment. IGMA TM-5000 may be purchased in the FGIA Online Store by visiting

Amy Roberts is FGIA director of Canadian and technical glass operations

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