A major difficulty in the resolution of the scratched glass issues found in the construction industry is the level and quality of effort put forth by the involved parties to solve the problem.
Many of the most recent steps have merely addressed the symptoms or falsely placed blame on innocent parties. Until the glass industry as a whole acknowledges the true issues, and works together to solve them, the volume and severity of scratches has no hope of diminishing. The following is a summary of the current industry position.
- There is no standard or regulation to require glass washing prior to tempering. Glass washing obviously has a direct effect on tempered glass quality, as improperly removed glass fines get fused to the surface of the glass during the tempering process. The effectiveness of any washing process should be monitored on a continuous basis and enforced by all temperers.
- There is no standard for detecting or rejecting tempered glass with fabricating debris on the surface. Any fabricating debris fused to the surface of tempered glass substantially increases the likelihood that the glass will scratch during construction window cleaning.
- In an issue of the Glass Cleaning Information Bulletin that discussed Proper Procedures for Cleaning Architectural Glass Products, the Glass Association of North America (GANA) suggested that window cleaners not use scrapers to clean construction debris, stickers, or tape from glass. The safe use of scrapers has been a standard window cleaning technique for construction window cleaners for decades. Failing to address the true issue of glass quality and protection will do nothing but drive the condition of glass in the construction industry lower than it currently is. Until general contractors and their subcontractors protect windows from all construction debris, scrapers will continue to be the safest method for removing this debris from the glass.
- Another document from GANA, Heat-Treated Glass Surfaces Are Different, suggests the surface of heat-treated glass is different than annealed. This is simply not correct for properly fabricated glass. If there is a difference, it is a result of poor fabricating procedures during the tempering process, resulting in a defective surface that should never be accepted by the builder.
- It has been stated by some tempered glass manufacturers that the particles found on the surface on their tempered glass is a result of an unknown source that they are unable to identify. This position is an irresponsible attempt to deflect the blame. A simple composition analysis would identify the makeup of these particles, allowing the manufacturer to determine and eliminate the source. Furthermore, regardless of the difficulty involved in determining the source of particles, it is the window manufacturers' responsibility to ensure a quality product, no matter what changes are necessary in their process.
- Glass protection has always been my first line of defense for preventing scratched glass. GANA has recently written a Glass Information Bulletin, Construction Site Protection of Architectural Glass, which covers the protection of glass during construction.
- After several years of dialogue the IWCA has decided to publish its own bulletin, IWCA Tempered Glass Informational Bulletin 2004 - Scrapers & Fabricating Debris.
- GANA has stimulated dialogue with the International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) in an effort to create window cleaning guidelines which will include acceptable tools for cleaning all glass, tempered and annealed.