Death by Double Glazing
Fully 240,000 of the 2,000,000 double glazing units installed every year in the UK could be lethal, says double glazing guru Mark Ashwell – MD of Wokingham based TradeMark Windows. That’s 12%.
So 12% of all double glazing installations may fall short of government legislation designed to ensure the safety of replacement windows. Mark believes that this level of failure is extremely worrying. “The majority of safety failures are caused by the incorrect use of safety glass, obstruction of fire escapes and incorrect ventilation around gas appliances,” he said. “This is a massive safety issue that can cause injury or even death”.
Mark believes that the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), the industry’s governing body, is failing the consumer. “In response to the government legislation*, the GGF has created Fenestration Self Assessment (FENSA)” explained Mark. “This effectively means that double glazing installers can inspect their own work and certify it as safe. Surely that’s just not good enough! Building regulations are extremely complicated; most workers in the double glazing industry are simply not ready for such a responsibility”.
It gets better: inspectors from the British Board of Agreement and Dearle and Henderson visit only 1.7% of all installations completed by a FENSA registered double glazing company. It is these inspectors who have reported the 12% failure rate.
To date, FENSA has not expelled any member from its self-assessment program. In a letter to The Fenestra Journal, Greg O’Donoghue, FENSA Chairman, admitted that some member company’s failure rates were too high, however. He also commented that a 12% failure rate was not ‘ideal’.
*Statutory instrument 2002 no. 440 – building (amendments) regulations
Fact, Figures, FENSA
To break it down, then: there are two million double glazing installations every year in the UK. FENSA inspects 1.7% of them. Twelve percent of those randomly inspected don’t comply with building regulations. It is therefore fair to assume that 12% of all installations undertaken by FENSA registered fitters require remedial work.
Doesn’t make for fun reading, does it?
TradeMark Windows has not registered with FENSA. The company employs an independent buildings inspector to examine every installation completed by its fitters. This is the only way that the company can ensure that building regulations are upheld.
Mark Ashwell is committed to campaigning for improvements to the reputation and the standards of the double glazing industry.
Article written April 2005.