Glass tables a significant source of life-threatening injuries, especially for kids

NEWARK, N.J. — When one stops to ponder potential health hazards in the home or office, glass tables aren’t usually the first object that comes to mind. That may soon change, though, according to a surprising new study just released by Rutgers University.

The work by researchers at RU shows that faulty glass tables can potentially cause life-threatening injuries. The authors are now advocating for stricter governmental oversight and regulations to protect consumers. Suddenly, a nice wooden table sounds pretty appealing.

“It is imperative to push for stricter regulation as consumers of glass tables should not be incurring life-threatening trauma injuries due to neglect of manufacturers in not using tempered glass,” says study author Stephanie Bonne, an assistant professor of surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, in a release.

Who is most at risk for glass table injuries?

Researchers analyzed 3,241 cases provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, as well as 24 additional cases from a level 1 trauma center. Notably, most of the investigated glass table injuries happened to either young children (under age seven) or young adults in their early 20s. Roughly 70% of the people involved in these accidents were men.

The injuries affected various bodily areas (forehead, arms, legs) and ranged in severity from minor cuts and abrasions to full on organ/vessel damage and even death in some cases.

It’s not a problem we all hear too much about, but glass table injuries are actually quite common. Annually, over 2.5 million glass table injuries are reported. Many of the victims of these accidents end up in trauma centers and emergency rooms.

Tempered glass vs. untempered glass

Why is this happening so often? Untempered glass may be to blame. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission mandates that tempered glass be used for doors. The same rules do not apply for tables. So, many glass tables are produced with untempered glass and are thus more likely to shatter into sharp edges.

Among all examined incidents, 1,792 resulted in lacerations, and 24 led to blunt injuries. All in all, roughly 15% were classified as “severe.” The wrist, hand, and fingers were the most commonly reported injured areas. Another 8% passed away within one month of their accident. About half of all included patients admitted to a trauma center needed surgery.

How exactly are these injuries happening? Many fell into a glass table, while others accidentally hurt themselves with glass after a table had broken. Some incurred non-glass related injuries by hitting against or falling from a glass table.

The study is published in the American Journal of Surgery.