In most workplaces, there is a danger of harm from the storage, handling, and disposal of glassware or broken glass. Broken glass can result in lacerations, cuts, and puncture wounds, which can lead to severed arteries or tendons, amputations, eye injuries, or disease exposure.
The severity of injury depends on how you are cut by the glass. For example, if the glass breaks under a knife blade, then you can be cut easily. But if the glass is transparent, then you might not see it until it's too late. Also, the more brittle the glass, the more likely it is to break into sharp pieces.
Broken glass can cause injury through three mechanisms: friction, impact, and penetration. When glass breaks, it creates an extremely sharp piece that can do serious damage if it gets inside your body.
When walking on floors with broken glass, you must avoid stepping on the glass itself. This will cause you to slip and fall. Instead, look for objects that are larger than they should be (like chair legs or cabinet doors) that may have been hidden under the glass before it broke.
The best protection against broken glass is the establishment of working practices that keep broken glass contained to prevent escape into open areas where it can be a hazard.
Broken glass should never be thrown out with regular trash.
Broken glass can also pose a health risk if it is tainted with harmful chemicals, blood, or infectious agents that enter the body via a cut or puncture. The broken glass may need to be removed by a person trained in hazardous material cleanup.
However, when laboratory glassware breaks, it can cause significant damage. Broken glassware injuries can range from a little scratch to a significant health danger. Glassware can burst or collapse in rare situations owing to pressurization or a chemical reaction. If polluted, broken glassware might potentially pose a health concern. It is important to not use damaged glassware because any substance held in the glass will be released into the atmosphere if enough pressure is applied.
Glass is a common material used in laboratories because it is non-reactive with many substances and doesn't interfere with experiments. However, like any other material, glass can be damaged by heat, cold, and force. Damaged glass may exhibit white or opaque areas where the glass was once clear or transparent. Also, if enough pressure is applied over time, glass may fracture or break. When this happens, particles of glass can fly into the air, becoming airborne contamination.
Airborne glass particles are very small - about 1/10th the width of a human hair - and can travel long distances before settling down onto something else. They can get into your lungs and cause problems for you, including but not limited to cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Glass particles have also been known to enter bodies of water through storm drains or sewage systems and cause injuries to fish eggs and larvae. Fish deaths have also been reported after flying glass fragments entered waterways.
Warning. Physical risks include broken glass and other sharp items. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates hazardous materials handling.
Glassware shards There are several occasions where glassware might break and harm your flesh when used. Glass becomes brittle with time, making it more prone to cracking and shattering. Glassware can break if it is handled roughly, such as when joining two components of a glass device. It can also be broken by small objects that find their way into your home. If you're working with a hot liquid and the glass breaks, the heat could burn you.
The danger from glassware stems not only from its sharpness but also from the potential exposure to harmful substances. Some chemicals are toxic if they get into your body through your skin or if they are inhaled. Other substances may cause irritation to the skin or the lungs if they are swallowed. The type of chemical found in glassware can leach out over time due to the influence of sunlight and heat. This is especially true for items made of clear glass because darkness causes colors to fade and dullness to set in.
Clear glass has one major advantage over stained glass for use with chemicals that are sensitive to color: You cannot see what you are doing if the container is stained. In fact, you would be better off not using clear glass for things like funneling chemicals because it is difficult to tell how much you have left. However, if you plan to store your chemicals safely without worrying about damage to their color, then clear glass is the way to go.