When glass is less than transparent

With glass processors in court for fraudulent supply of fire glass, Bohle’s managing director Dave Broxton warns even genuine errors could lead to crippling liabilities.  

It was described by the police as ‘absolutely reckless’. Meanwhile, in court, the presiding judge said that it was only ‘by the grace of God’ that serious injury to the public had been avoided.

Seamus James Laverty, 58, of Deer Park Road in Toome, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of fraud by false representation at Antrim Crown Court last month.

Laverty sold ordinary glass as fire safety glass between 2010 and 2013 when he worked on the factory floor of Glassworks Ireland. 

The glass was supplied to the construction industry and later used in buildings across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England.

A whistleblower, who was a competitor of Laverty, became suspicious of his company’s cheap tenders and acquired a sample of fire safety glass from Glassworks Ireland. He discovered it was, in fact, ordinary laminate glass that had been stamped as fire resistant. He notified the police.

In all, the fraud totalled £145,000 but its less the actual cost of this crime that’s so shocking, than what its impact might have been on public safety.

Glass supplied by Laverty ended up in public buildings including Ulster Hospital, Tallaght Hospital in Dublin and Manchester University, putting the safety of users of those buildings at very real risk of serious injury.

It’s at the extreme end of the scale but the Laverty case highlights the importance of knowing exactly what you’re sourcing and supplying. As a glass processor you are, by definition, accountable for what you supply regardless of whether you’re acting in good faith or otherwise.

Fraud is rare but mistakes can and do happen, and over-reliance on the integrity of your supply chain could mean that you end up inadvertently supplying the wrong specification of glass or insulated units.

If this happens there are clear liabilities under building control but the consequences and ramifications go far beyond Building Regs to fundamental issues of public safety. Fines and penalties are just the tip of the iceberg if things don’t go wrong. If they do, penalties could be much more severe including corporate manslaughter charges and potential imprisonment.   

Given this, it makes sense to have an insurance policy. Bohle provides a potential solution in the Glass Buddy and Glass Buddy Plus, which eliminate the risk of inaccurate supply of product by providing an instant analysis of glass properties ahead of manufacture or installation.

Capable of analysis of single pane through to laminated or insulated glass units, Glass Buddy uses laser technology to deliver an instant analysis of glass properties. This includes thickness, the structure of the pane, the Low-e coating, PVB interlays and their position to the accuracy of 0.1mm.

It’s a very affordable piece of equipment but one that delivers peace of mind by providing an on-the-spot and precise analysis of glass properties.

Errors in labelling can occur, and if they’re not picked up early the cost of putting them right once a product has been installed, or because of the legal liabilities that go with it, can be huge.

Glass buddy eliminates doubt and in doing so eliminates risk and your potential liabilities as a manufacturer or supplier.