Last Updated: Aug 04, 2017     Views: 66

The safety of walking on glass depends on a number of factors, including:

  • how well the glass was prepared and by whom,
  • how it is supported,
  • its previous history,
  • whether or not it has any surface flaws or other imperfections,
  • who would be doing the walking,
  • under what circumstances the person or people would be walking on the glass.
In fact, the stairs here at the Rakow Research Library are made of glass! The picture to the right shows our glass stairs and reinforcements, and we also have some glass walkways overhead.
Here below is some information on the basic structure of glass from the text from 1995's Structural Glass by Peter Rice and Hugh Dutton:
Glass can be very strong, much stronger than structural steel. However, because glass has relatively low fracture toughness, such strengths can only be achieved when it is virtually free of defects, as a freshly drawn glass fiber might be. Normally glass will contain defects, the surface being particularly prone to being scratched, chipped or attacked by the atmosphere. In this condition, the glass will fracture. The behavior is brittle, with no ability to redistribute load or impact energy.
To counter the fragility of glass , the indutry has developed a number of methods to strengthen it. These do not change its nature, but either raise the threshold at which cracking occurs, or incorporate additional ductile materials that absorb energy and therefore prevent total failure when a unit has cracked. Among these, the tree most commonly used methods are toughed or tempered glass, laminated glass and wired glass.

This is really an engineering safety and architectural question.  We see glass floors and stairways frequently these days, but you should always consult some reputable glass engineering firm or architects with relevant experience regarding the safety of glass flooring. Attached is a bibliography on architectural glass books. Some sources on the topic include:

GANA Guide to Architectural Glass (2010): "The Guide to Architectural Glass is the new version of the previous Specifiers Guide to Glass by the GANA Flat Glass Manufacturing Division.  The Guide offers an overview of architectural glass, illustrating many of the uses and properties of modern float glass.”

GANA Glazing Manual: The GANA Glazing Manual is recognized as the definitive source in the glass and glazing field. This manual includes complete information about primary and fabricated glass products, quality standards, design considerations, general and specific glazing guidelines and glazing in hazardous locations. Formerly published by the Flat Glass Marketing Association (FGMA), this manual is frequently referred to as the 'industry bible.'"

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Alert: Museum Closed to Public. May Cause Delays.The Corning Museum of Glass is currently closed to the public effective March 16 through April 22, 2020, as a precautionary measure for public health and safety. As a result, resources available to answer your questions are extremely limited. During this closure, you may be interested in searching our Ask a Glass Question FAQs or reviewing our Research Guides on various topics. We also highly recommend checking out The Corning Museum of Glass on YouTube for hours of artist demonstrations, lectures, and special events. Thank you for your patience.

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