SINGAPORE – A bathroom glass door in a condominium unit in Serangoon shattered suddenly, injuring a two-year-old and her grandmother, who was bathing her.
The child, who was facing the door, had cuts to her face and body in the incident, which occurred in September.
Two months later, the child has scars on her forehead and thumb, said her mother, who wanted to be known only as Ms Li.
The family had been living in the rented apartment in The Garden Residences for two months at the time of the incident.
On Sept 15, Ms Li and her husband returned home from work at about 9pm to find their daughter wailing and bloodied.
The grandmother, 65, also suffered cuts on her arms and feet.
Ms Li said: “It was scary... We were supposed to have other plans that night, but they were cancelled, so we came home earlier. My mum and new helper wouldn’t know what to do.”
Panicking, the parents drove their daughter and mother to Sengkang General Hospital.
Doctors took nearly two hours to pick out the glass fragments from the girl’s body, said Ms Li.
“It could have been worse. The glass shards could have fallen into her eyes or mouth if she had been looking up,” she added.
A spokesman for Gardens Development, the developer of the 613-unit condo, said the developer is aware of three instances of tempered glass shattering. He said the incidents could have been caused by impact or spontaneous shattering.
He said investigations showed that the contractor had followed proper procedures when installing the glass panels.
He added that all the tempered glass panels used in the condo comply with Building and Construction Authority guidelines, and they had undergone a process to remove naturally occurring impurities that may cause spontaneous shattering.
In all three incidents, the glass broke into small cubes, a safety feature of tempered glass, said the spokesman.
In two of the cases, the affected residents suffered cuts but did not require stitches. No injuries were sustained in the third incident.
“We regret the distress and inconvenience that the incidents have caused the residents of the units,” the spokesman said.
“We have reached out to the affected residents to render assistance, and offered to replace the tempered glass panels in the units.”
Mr Victor Sia, a research and development engineer at Aestec Testing Laboratory, said as a safety feature, some tempered glass has an interlayer of material such as polyvinyl butyral, or PVB, so that when the glass shatters, the pieces do not fly off but are instead held in place.
In Singapore, monolithic tempered glass – a single piece of glass – is often used for bathroom sliding doors because of its aesthetics and safety performance, said Mr Sia.
He added that it is unrealistic to expect glass never to break, but to prevent glass shards or particles from flying and harming anyone nearby, laminated glass – made of two plies of glass bonded together with the PVB interlayer – is a better choice.
Other types of glass, such as annealed glass or heat strengthened glass, do not break spontaneously, but are not as strong and break easily on impact, he said.
They are also not considered safety glass as they break into large shards which can puncture the skin, he added.