Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide program, which is held Aug. 10-16 this year, to recognize the successes of workplace health and safety solutions and the exchange of information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe. The program was established by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Organization (OSHA).
One area of safety that may be overlooked, but always in view, are the windows, glass doors and skylights in the workplace or at home.
More offices offer an abundance of natural daylight through large glass windows and glass entrance doors. This is a desirable trend because it may reduce the need for costly artificial lighting, promote better health and sleep patterns, according to many medical studies, as well as improve the appearance of a building.
Although all of this natural light is desirable, windows that are not provided with protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays may, over time, expose workers nearby to the sun’s UV-A spectrum, which can lead to possible skin and eye damage in the form of skin cancer and cataracts. The sun’s UV also contributes to the fading of furniture, floors and other furnishings, which can make an interior look drab and worn out before its time.
Dark glass may only be glass with color in it, and it still gives little protection to people from UV rays, unless it has window film installed on it.
All quality window films block 99 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays. In commercial settings, the return on investment for the installation of window films is usually under five years, though each building is different and window-film experts should be consulted in advance to determine the ROI. Many utilities offer rebates for window-film installations because it works hardest when electricity demand is at its peak—when the sun is out.
Window films from manufacturer members of the nonprofit International Window Film Association are rated for their energy-saving performances by the National Fenestration Rating Council, a non-profit initiated by the Department of Energy. This is the same organization that also rates windows, doors and skylights for their energy-saving performances.
When an existing window is still structurally sound, professionally installed window film is a good choice for the environment over replacing older windows entirely. The installation may be completed in a matter of hours or days, dependent on job size, and in most cases not interfere with business operations or home routines.
Window films may last nearly as long as a replacement window’s lifespan and at a fraction of the cost. In California, for example, the building code specifies that window film be warranted for 15 years by the manufacturer.
Another often overlooked benefit of window film that ties in with Safe + Sound Week is preventing broken glass from hitting building occupants. Window film helps to hold glass that has been impacted together, so the nearby occupants are not showered in broken glass. Safety and security window films take this level of safety one step further and may help hold glass together from the damaging blast waves resulting from a nearby explosion.
Other causes of breakage can include hurricanes, seismic events or people attempting forced entry through a window. Security window film encapsulates the glass, so the glass doesn’t shatter into small pieces that go flying. At 4 to 14 mil, security film is significantly thicker than solar control film, which is generally 1.5- to 2-mil thick. Although solar-control film is applied only to the part of the window that is visible, security film may be installed into the window framing system itself by a process known as anchoring.
When you think working safely, think about window film. To find out if your office or home can benefit from the installation of window film, visit the International Window Film Association’s website and click on the business locator button where you can enter your ZIP code and select a local dealer/installer in your area, or select a manufacturer member of the IWFA and let them direct you to their local representative.