The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Glazer Workers
Glazer Workers, glazers, or glass workers, install glass materials and windows, display cases, storefronts, and skylights that serve as a see-through barrier through a window opening, tabletop, ceiling, interior wall, or building front. Glazers sometimes manufacture, transport, remove and recycle various glass materials.
Glass Working Hazards
There are significant risk factors for working as a glass installer or repairer that could leave the glazer with significant injuries or dead. The most common risk factors associated with working with glass include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Muscle strains
- Puncture Wounds
- Eye injuries
- Bone fractures
- Crushing injuries
- Slips, trips, and falls.
- Significant health hazards by handling agents that are known to cause hives and dermatitis
- The dangers of using formaldehyde resin adhesives, isocyanates, epoxies, sealants, and finishes.
- The risks of being exposed to harmful solvents used in degreasers, coatings, ink, and glue.
- Repetitive motion injuries caused by working in awkward positions or using hand grips continually.
Most glazes, fluxes, color additives, and mixes used in glass materials contain dangerous substances including arsenic, mercury, lead, heavy metals, and solvents. Some products in the glass industry also contain asbestos and silica, which are known to cause significant life-threatening respiratory problems.
The Need for PPE
To ensure the safety of their employees, employers must provide all Glazer Workers with PPE (personal protective equipment) that could include a variety of gear and equipment like:
- Protective Gloves that resist against puncture wounds, cuts, lacerations, burns, an injury caused by exposure to solvents.
- Arm and Wrist Guards that protect the glazer's arms, wrists and shoulders against broken and sharp edges of glass.
- Safety Glasses that safeguard the eye against broken shards and fragments of glass.
- Hard Hats that safeguard the glazer's head from objects falling on the job site.
- Safety footwear including safety boots that safeguard the foot from crutches, punctures, and wounds caused by equipment and falling objects.
- Kneepads that provide a cushion safeguard against injury caused by kneeling on hard surfaces.
- Fall Protection Gear that safeguards the worker from severe injuries and fatalities when performing their duty at great height including working on a platform and climbing ladders.
- Respirators that help safeguard the glazer's lungs from insulating dangerous materials and hazardous substances.
- Thick apron or coveralls that protect the glazer's skin and clothing against sharp objects and liquid chemicals.
Glass Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 680 glassworkers (glazers) were working in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. On average glass workers in northeastern Illinois earn $78,820 every year (mean wage), which is $37.89 per hour. The wage is substantially higher the national averages. See Chart
Glazer Accidents with Injuries and Fatalities
Many glazers work with laminated glass, often referred to as safety glass, that is manufactured using at least two layers of ordinary annealed glass. During the manufacturing process, the two sheets are "bonded together with a plastic interlayer." This plastic component prevents the glass from breaking into sharp, large shards. However, the machinery used to cut this type of glass is known to cause significant injuries. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) first became aware of the problem in September 2004 when investigating an accident involving the cutting of laminated safety glass, that used a flammable liquid that led to an accident causing second and third-degree burn injuries. Other severe injuries and fatalities occurring to glazers include:
- Case 1: April 2013 – A glass worker is killed by falling glass sheets. On the late morning of April 19, 2013, a glass worker "was disposing a load of glass sheets, with the assistance of two co-workers. The glass, which consisted of seven sheets weighing approximately 100 pounds each, was loaded on one side of the metal A-frame cart. The two co-workers were stationed on either side of the cart to move it, and [the first glass worker] was steadying the glass sheets. As the cart was being positioned, the glass load, which was not secured, fell forward, crushing and killing" the glazer.
- Case 2: June 2017 – A glazer carrying glass incurs an arm laceration. Just before 9:00 AM on June 16, 2017, a Glazer employed by a glass company "was working on a multi-employer construction project for a multifamily residential building." The glass worker "was carrying glass mirrors from his truck to a staging area on the second floor. The glass worker "sustained what was characterized as a massive laceration to his left forearm. Emergency services were called, and [the worker] was admitted and treated for the laceration.
- Case 3: February 2013 – A cart of sheet glass tips over and fractures a glass workers leg. On February 14, 2013, a glass worker "was working in a warehouse" with the company that had "one location and nine employees." The accident "took place in a small warehouse behind the offices, were sheet glass products were brought in, stored, worked on, and shipped out." However, a "drywall cart was configured to hold glass sheets at a nearly vertical angle. The cart supported the sheets 33 inches above their bottom edge. From time to time, sheets of glass were left in the cart.
Because of a canceled job, ten sheets of 72" x 100" flat mirror glass sheets had been left stacked in the drywall cart" for six days. The "weight of this stack was approximately 1440 pounds. On February 14, the employee was working in the warehouse. The drywall cart was in the way, so he tried to move it. The cart and its load tipped over and fell toward him, striking his lower left leg and causing a fracture. The immediate cause of the incident was that the stack of mirror glass sheets loaded on the drywall cart was stored in a manner that created a hazard. The cart was unstable and liable to tip over and fall."
- Case 4: December 2009 – A glazer died when struck by shattered glass fragments. On December 22, 2009, a Glazer "was using a CNC cutting table to cut… pieces of glass … from a sheet of temper glass. After the CNC cutting table had scored the glass, [the Glazer] broke off a 1" x 6' and a 1" x 7' strip of glass." The Glazer "had first disposed of [the smaller] piece into the metal dumpster, which was located near the CNC cutting table. The glass hit something and broke into a 1" x 24" piece and struck him in the neck. He died due to sufficient amount of blood loss from the neck laceration."
- Case 5: September 2012 – A glazer's face is cut when a piece of glass he was moving breaks. On August 29, 2012, a 4-year-old construction labor working on a remodeling job along with two co-workers "were in the process of moving a piece of glass, which they had just removed, from a large window. The clasp pain measured 6' x 7'. They lifted it from the ground and were going to place it on a drywall cart to haul the way to the dumpster. While they were carrying it to the cart, the glass pane flexed and broke into several pieces. A piece of the broken glass cut [the worker] on the left side of his face [where he] suffered a serious laceration to the left side of his face." The injured employee "was treated in hospitalized for two days."
- Case 6: January 2012 – A glazer punctured his hand while handling glass materials. on December 30, 2011, a glazer "was working in a glass window and frame shop… handling materials. He placed his hand on a nearby table [that] had a non-visible glass fragment on its surface. The glass fragment entered the employee's left wrist." The injured employee went to the hospital to be treated for a puncture injury. The employee was hospitalized for 24 hours."
- Case 7: September 2007 – Shattered glass lacerates a glazer's arm. On the late morning of August 8, 2017, a glazer was "installing glass in a commercial building under construction in Cerritos, California. He was in a scissor lift when the glass shattered, and he was struck by pieces of glass." The injured worker "sustained serious lacerations and tendon damage to his left forearm" requiring hospitalization.
- Case 8: August 2007 – A glazer's arm is lacerated when struck by falling glass. On the morning of August 3, 2017, a Glazer and "three coworkers were removing the last of six 5' x 7' glass windows from the front of an office building." The employees "were wearing gloves but were not using any other tools." One employee "was standing behind one of his coworkers as the coworker bent over and removed his hands from the bottom of one of the windows."
The first employee "heard the glass crack and saw it split down the middle when he realized it was falling forward toward the coworker's neck." The worker "thrust his right arm out to protect his coworker, and the glass lacerated his forearm, including some of his tendons. Another coworker, hearing the glass crack, turned to see what happened and called 911." EMT responded, and the injured employee "was transported by ambulance" to the local hospital "where he underwent surgery." After the employee healed, there was "little movement in the hand and none in his little finger. His physician has taken him off work and scheduled physical therapy for his arm and hand."
Staying Safe on the Job
There are significant steps that any Glazer or glass worker can take to avoid injury and death in the workplace. The simple steps include:
- Pay Attention and Stay Alert – The majority of serious injuries and fatalities are the result of carelessness.
- Take Time to Think – Before beginning any task, it is crucial to think out the entire project and develop a plan on how to move and work with the glass safely.
- Slow down. A simple solution for minimizing the risk of dangerous movements is to slow down and safely perform the job.
- Lift Wisely – Carrying sheets of glass that are too heavy to manage increases the potential for serious accidents. When necessary, get assistance from other workers, and utilize a mechanical lift to move the object safely in the place.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment like gloves, aprons, safety glasses, hardhats, and kneepads.
- Wear Fall Protection Devices whenever performing duties on an elevated platform, scaffold, ladder or other height.
- Dispose of scraps of glass and glass products wisely. Always dispose of glass scraps in a puncture resistant box, container or dumpster.
- Keep a Clean Workplace – Sweeping up spilled materials, broken products, and loose debris can minimize slips and trips on the job.
The easiest solution for preventing severe injury or life-threatening illness by handling and transporting glass materials is through education. Ensure that every glassworker (glazer) remains fully informed of the potential dangers and health hazards associated with glass products and installation. The employer is legally responsible for training every employee on the company's policies and how to perform and maintain the best safe work practices. Also, the owner should routinely inspect their vehicles, equipment, ladders, chemicals, and power tools to look for defective products and equipment that need repair or replacement.
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