ONLINE EXCLUSIVE - Glass at a Glance: Advancing Glass in the UK

Together with its independent technical arm, Glass Technology Services (GTS), The British Glass Manufacturers' Confederation is helping the UK's glassmakers solve a variety of problems and pioneer a number of new manufacturing techniques.

The UK glass industry produces an estimated 2.8 million metric tons of glass per year, with a saleable value of approximately £1.5 billion. Production of containers for the food industry, glazing for construction and flat glass for the automotive industry account for around 90% of total glass production.

The British Glass Manufacturers' Confederation, which is both a materials organization and trade federation, is the voice of the UK's glass industry. Together with its independent technical arm, Glass Technology Services (GTS), British Glass is helping the UK's glassmakers solve a variety of problems and pioneer a number of new manufacturing techniques.

British Glass

The organization represents the interests of all sectors of the glass industry in the UK. Its main activity is representing the industry at a European, national and local level on a wide range of topical legislative issues, such as waste; packaging; and social policy legislation, standards and specifications likely to affect its members. It promotes glass as the first choice material in all container, flat, domestic, scientific and fiber applications.

However, British Glass' activities aren't limited to the UK. As a center of excellence, the organization helps companies around the world solve technical, environmental and production challenges. It has its own team of environmental consultants working closely with other professionals in the organization to handle legislative issues. With its busy information office and help line, and a dedicated library able to cope with virtually any request for published research, information, technical data or statistics, British Glass is viewed by many as the only "one stop shop" in Europe for all glass-related issues.

The organization is active in health and safety issues through its Glass Charter (open to all in the industry), which was established in 2001 to help the glass industry remain focused on the importance of health and safety in the workplace. Companies that sign the charter commit themselves to contributing to a 30% reduction in working days lost through accidents and ill health by 2010. As of December 2003, 262 companies had signed. The charter provides legislation and best practices guidance, as well as a forum for discussing health and safety issues.

The annual Health & Safety Conference has also been gaining popularity and is now a huge draw, especially with the new Glass Charter Awards Ceremony, which was introduced at the 2003 conference in November. Significant improvements in health and safety initiatives throughout the glass industry have been made in the last two years, and the Glass Charter Awards Ceremony was established to recognize top contributors to these improvements. At the 2003 conference, awards were presented on both an individual and organizational level in 11 different categories, ranging from Best Safety Performance and Best Safety Initiative to Outstanding Health and Safety Professional and Outstanding Employee Contribution to Safety. Two special awards were also presented to Dave Donkin of Pilkington and Mike Thomas of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for Outstanding Safety Support to the Glass Industry, and Pilkington UK received the prestigious GLASS Charter Globe Award as the overall top performing organization within the UK glass industry.

British Glass has also recently launched an Employment Charter, a six-month pilot project funded by the UK's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help organizations improve their human resource (HR) performance. Thirty-five organizations are currently participating in this project. If the project is successful, British Glass intends to formulate a permanent committee, open to all members, which will deal with all HR and employment-related issues.

Glass Technology Services

For more than 50 years, GTS has been helping companies design, manufacture and bring glass products to market. From one-off projects to long-term consultancy contracts, GTS' team of technical experts provide a wide range of custom solutions covering all aspects of glass, including new product development, melting, fitness for purpose and failure assessment. The organization has been awarded with ISO 17025 accreditation for analysis and testing, endorsed by the Source Testing Association (STA) for environmental services, and registered by the Law Society to provide expert witness services. Many successful manufacturers, architects, retailers and members of the legal profession throughout the world have chosen GTS to provide solutions to their problems.

Based for many years in the Broomhill area of Sheffield, GTS has recently moved with British Glass to a new, state-of-the-art, 16,000-square-foot research facility on the more accessible north outskirts of Sheffield. The new building is enabling GTS to provide an even broader range of services in areas such as analysis and testing, fracture and failure, product performance, glass melting, and energy and environmental issues.

Analysis and Testing. GTS' team of specialists in glass analysis and testing is composed of scientists, graduates and key individuals with decades of industrial experience in manufacturing and product development. This enables GTS to provide fast, workable and cost-effective solutions. The group often provides a multi-disciplinary approach to troubleshooting, in which a team of experts investigates a problem from different perspectives. With its new laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment, GTS has increased its analysis turnaround time-a crucial benefit for continuous glass manufacturers, which require results in the shortest possible amount of time to avoid production losses.

Fracture and Failure Evaluation. GTS is able to call on a range of theoretical and practical expertise to solve glass manufacturing and application issues efficiently and cost-effectively. The group tests hundreds of glass samples every day, for everything from basic failure analysis to expert opinion, and is continually expanding its knowledge base and ability to provide instant solutions. In its new facilities, an even broader range of evaluation services can be carried out on highly sophisticated, precise equipment.

Product Performance. How suitable is a product for the marketplace? This is a question constantly on the minds of retailers and manufacturers of glassware. GTS offers a comprehensive glass quality and performance assessment service to help allay fears regarding due diligence considerations. GTS' long-established assessment procedures are carried out to national and international standards, and with its new facilities and state-of-the-art equipment, such assessments can be obtained even faster than before.

Glass Melting. GTS has significant experience in designing glass melt properties to suit specific requirements; as a result, it is a key partner for research in the defense, opto-electronic, waste management, nuclear materials, medical materials, and optics and filters industries. It is also a valued partner for glass manufacturers that are seeking to improve their glass compositions, develop new colors to add value, or assess existing or new raw materials without affecting production. With the additional space in its new building, the organization has increased its melting capabilities by installing larger furnaces-including a dual-fuel (electric and gas) furnace capable of melting 200 kg (440 lbs) of glass.

Energy and Environmental Issues. GTS staff members have more than 20 years of experience in stack testing and environmental services-particularly at the high stack temperatures found in the glass industry. As a result, GTS is recognized nationally and internationally in this field. The organization offers both standard and non-standard emissions monitoring, and also holds discussions with regulatory bodies. GTS has also undertaken energy efficiency and climate change levy studies in all sectors of the industry, and its staff are regularly called upon to provide legislative reviews and compliance consulting. The group's testing and monitoring capabilities have been greatly enhanced through its new facilities and equipment.

Advancing Glass

The UK has a world-class reputation for innovations in glassmaking, and both British Glass and Glass Technology Services have played a key role in establishing that reputation. With a new R&D facility and a renewed commitment to service, these organizations will continue to evolve to meet the glass industry's requirements-both in the UK and worldwide.


Nick Kirk, Ph.D., CEng, is project manager of Glass Technology Services Ltd. He can be reached at British Glass, 9 Churchill Way, Sheffield, England S35 2PY; (44) 0114-290-1850; fax (44) 0114-290-1851; e-mail; or online at or

Sidebar: GTS' Areas of Expertise

Analysis and Testing

  • Durability and leaching/migration testing to national and international standards
  • Physical testing of glasses (impact, vertical load, pressure, etc.)
  • Measurement and/or calculation of physical properties
  • Color analysis and color problem investigation
  • Wet chemical analysis of inorganic materials
  • Bubble/seed analysis
  • Stone/cord analysis
  • Thermal analysis
  • XRF analysis of glasses, ceramics and raw materials
  • Other routine analyses

Fracture and Failure Evaluation

  • Architectural/automotive glass failure
  • Fiber optic and medical device glass failure
  • Scientific equipment glass failure
  • New product development
  • Chemical plant glass failures
  • Supplier/end user disputes
  • Consumer goods failure
  • Food container failure
  • Customer returns
  • Insurance claims
  • Product recalls
  • Legal cases

Product Performance

  • Glass distribution/thickness and glass quality assessment
  • Thermal shock resistance testing
  • Coating adhesion testing
  • Impact resistance testing
  • Residual stress/annealing/toughening assessment
  • Internal pressure testing
  • Consultancy and advice
  • Design assessment
  • Vertical load testing
  • Elemental migration testing (undecorated and decorated ware)
  • Fitness for purpose evaluation

Glass Melting

  • Development of new and novel glasses to meet specific property requirements
  • Composition modification (including color, viscosity and density)
  • Trial melts for raw material assessment
  • Compositional advice and consultancy
  • Refractory corrosion/stability testing
  • Advanced/specialty glass services
  • Pilot scale trials
  • Thermal analysis

Energy and Environmental Issues

  • Lead and acid fume emissions testing/monitoring
  • Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) compliance monitoring
  • In factory testing/sampling
  • Hot end coating emissions testing/monitoring
  • Recycling impact analyses
  • Energy efficiency studies
  • Compliance consultancy
  • Legislative reviews
  • Volatile organic compound (VOC) monitoring

Sidebar: 2003 Glass Charter Award Recipients

Overall Winner

Pilkington UK

This organization has achieved some outstanding results in all areas of safety throughout its operations. The company has significantly reduced lost time accidents at its larger sites, and has also greatly reduced both major and minor accidents at most of its smaller sites. It employs personnel who consistently spread the word about health and safety not only within their own organization, but also throughout the industry as a whole. The company has implemented a safety behavioral program that has reduced accidents by 50%; behavioral targets and key indicators for all areas of the business; universal operation of the HSE climate survey tool; extensive safety management and operator training; s safety observation program; and numerous safety initiatives, including in-house videos, posters, guidance booklets, quizzes, puzzles and catch phrases.

Nominated Health & Safety Director - Safety Leadership

Carol Murray-S. Murray & Co.

Carol was appointed director of Health & Safety shortly after The Glass Charter was launched and has been instrumental in significantly improving S. Murray & Co.'s health and safety performance. As a result, the company recently received a 10 percent reduction in its employer's liability insurance premiums.

Alan Jones-Beatson Clark

Alan has put health and safety at the top of Beatson Clark's business agenda and is successfully turning the company's safety environment from a "blame" culture into a positive environment that supports and guides its employees. He has highlighted workforce safety as the company's key business priority.

Denis Petit Maire-St Gobain

Denis came to St. Gobain in Eggborough from St. Gobain France and has consistently led by example. He actively promotes health and safety in everything he does and has been instrumental in achieving significant improvements at St. Gobain.

Graham Randle-Pilkington UK

Graham drives health and safety throughout the UK and European sites of Pilkington and is tireless when it comes promoting health and safety in any arena. Graham is also an active member of several glass industry strategy groups, which develop progressive plans to improve the glass industry's safety performance.

Outstanding Health & Safety Professional

Geoff Hambly-S. Murray & Co

Geoff's role in health and safety is only part of his overall job description at S. Murray & Co. However, he has placed great emphasis on his safety role and provides continuous support to both the health and safety director and the company's employees. He has made many physical improvements and introduced new management systems and initiatives that have contributed to the company's newly revitalized safety culture.

Dave Ash-Pilkington Processing & Merchanting

Dave's health and safety responsibilities are spread across the UK. Most of Pilkinton's P&M facilities are small, closely managed business units, and this presents a number of challenges. However, through his efforts, Dave has helped revitalize P&M and continues to emphasize training, safety initiatives and reduction in lost time accidents.

Ron Branagan-Beatson Clark

A well-known and active member of the British Glass Health & Safety Committee, Ron and his counterpart, Chris Charlesworth, have significantly contributed to the positive safety culture within Beatson Clark. However, it was Ron's outstanding leadership skills within the realms of health and safety that led to this award. He successfully began a number of initiatives within Beatson Clark that have improved the company's safety performance. Ron is also a well-respected verifier for health and safety national vocational qualifications (NVQs).

Bill Sidwell-Rockware Wheatley

Bill has been highly involved with health and safety training within Rockware Wheatley and has demonstrated a commitment to improving safety within his facility. He has a flair for innovation, which helps keep employees motivated in improving safety performance.

Ray Moulder-Nicholls & Clarke

Ray is a fairly recent newcomer to the glazing side of the industry; however, he has already made a significant impact in improving health and safety. He has taken an innovative approach to tackling the safety culture both at a supervisory and production level, and he also contributes to developing strategies for the industry as a whole.

Best Safety Initiatives

Beatson Clark-Chris Charlesworth (Container Manufacturer)

As Beatson Clark was working towards OHSAS 18002 certification, the company felt that accident investigation and reporting should be computerized to facilitate better analysis. Such data could then be fed back into the system. Root cause analysis and prevention are now at the forefront of the new system, which has had a significant impact on the way accidents are investigated and reported.

Greenberg Glass-Jamie Richardson (Commercial Glazing)

Greenberg joined the Charter in 2002 and has quickly embraced the revitalizing strategy of the industry. The company's safety campaign, "Stamp Out Accidents," has been a resounding success so far within the group and includes innovative ways of communicating safety throughout the company-from stickers and posters to a new safety handbook and events that include "best practices" speakers from around the industry.

Brunner Mond-Deborah Whitworth Hilton (Raw Material Supplier)

Brunner Mond took on revitalizing in line with the UK government's early strategy and committed to a three-year safety project. The project included eight themes, including communication, contractors, auditing, systems, training and plant conditions. The result has been ongoing improvements in safety awareness, systems and performance.

Waterford Crystal-Liam Carmody (Crystal Manufacturer)

Waterford undertook an ambitious furnace rebuild program in-house and successfully managed the health and safety of all its own employees and contractors linked to the project. The program included an extensive training program that covered every aspect of the project and included an excellent feedback loop system to report any issues. As a result, accidents were kept to a minimum, and the few accidents that did occur were minor.

Best Training Initiative

Beatson Clark-Ron Branagan

Safe working practices were targeted within Beatson's training initiative and included providing a innovative training course to all employees at all sites. The workshop has begun a "Hearts and Minds Campaign," which is having a significant effect on attitudes regarding safety. This initiative has reduced accidents and influenced a more positive approach to a safe working environment.

Rockware-Terry Gater

Rockware has always been very active in health and safety training. However, it has recently had some significant success in one particular area of training-I.S. Machine Safety and the Use of Personal Protective Equipment. The company has recently gained accreditation to a nationally recognized qualification under the Glass Qualifications Authority.

St. Gobain-David Shepherd

St. Gobain had significant success with its Induction and Permit to Work training program, which was carried out initially among its contactors under the new build and fit-out stage. The program was so successful that the company later tailored it and applied the same approach to production. The result has led to a level of safety awareness that is truly commendable. Visits by these trained personnel to other St. Gobain plants in Europe has helped influence their colleagues in those facilities to improve their safety initiatives as well.

Best Health Initiative

Pilkington Primary Products-Dave Donkin (Flat Glass Manufacturer)

The Health Heart and Lifestyle initiative piloted throughout Pilkington's Primary Products Division has been a resounding success in providing employees with extra support on health initiatives outside the workplace. This well-being campaign included voluntary testing for cholesterol and blood pressure, along with advice on ideal weight and healthy eating. The company distributed useful information about stress, drugs, fitness, smoking and coping with shiftwork, and the employees also had access to this information through the company's intranet system. The program has reportedly been beneficial for those who have used it.

Rockware-Christine Pearson (Container Manufacturer)

In addition to meeting the standard occupational health requirements, Rockware expanded its medical program to identify medical problems that could have long-term effects on its employees, such as diabetes, kidney stones and prostrate problems. This proactive approach has been likened to a General Practice Well Person Clinic and has gained widespread participation from the workforce. It has also significantly boosted employee morale.

Outstanding Health & Safety Representative

Angela Milner-Rexam Glass

Angela continuously strives to make the working environment safe for Rexam Glass employees. As the union safety representative, she is actively involved in management/union partnership initiatives in relation to health and safety and promotes best practices from the shop floor to the highest level.

Stan Simms-Rockware

Stan is the union safety representative for Rockware and is involved in health and safety at all levels. He has provided an excellent advisory service to employees and has been involved with a significant number of safety initiatives.

Outstanding Employee Contribution

Tim Swetnam-Beatson Clark

Tim ensures that health and safety is kept at the forefront of everyone's mind. Proactive in accident prevention and open communication in relation to safety, he has been instrumental in the reduction of accidents. Guidance principles produced by Tim are also being used within the safety training proposals for Beatson Clark.

Gerry McKenna, Mick Russell and David Thornton-Rockware

Gerry and Mick designed a more customized approach to risk assessment for engineering staff within Rockware, which resulted in a reduction in lost time accidents within their departments. David made significant improvements to the guardrails on a new stacking machine to solve some serious safety issues, and this design has subsequently been implemented on all similar machines within the organization.

Nick Wilson-Pilkington Float Glass

Nick has made health and safety fun at Pilkington with his development of catch phrases, word searches and puzzles, all of them linked to the company's behavioral safety campaign.

Peter Sousby-Pilkington Primary

Peter has been involved with improving the risk assessment process and has shown real dedication and commitment during his project work on other safety-related issues.

Keith Bagshaw-Pilkington (Bradford)

Keith has implemented a number of innovative programs at his site, which have considerably reduced the risk of injuries to employees.

Regional Chairman of the Year

Peter Goee-Fineline

A very active member of The Glass Charter within his own organization, Peter also plays an active role in his regional meetings within the Kent, Surrey & Sussex areas. He has consistently encouraged his team members to become involved in The Glass Charter and ensures that health and safety is at the top of every agenda at regional level. He also provides feedback to his organization from the UK Safety Meetings within the Glass and Glazing Federation.

Outstanding Support for Industry

Dave Donkin-Pilkington UK

Dave has been behind the scenes for many events and strategy meetings. He has provided a significant amount of best practice theory and ideas, and has brought a large amount of creativity to the forefront on different projects tackled by the industry as a whole. Dave also contributes significantly to the Industry Advisory Board, which helps set policy for the UK glass and ceramics industry.

Mike Thomas-HSE

Mike's contributions to the industry have changed the old perception of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as "just a regulator" to a vital support mechanism for the industry. Mike has been involved with most of the projects that have been undertaken and has been one of the main drivers of The Glass Charter.

Contribution to Health & Safety

Pilkington (Plymouth)-Paul Meehan

This facility celebrated its second successive year without a lost time accident. Managers and supervisors are fully trained in all aspects of safety and then provide help, support and advice to their employees. The company has also improved health and safety-related communication through newsletters, posters and themed safety campaigns.

Paul Williams-Pilkington (Watson Street)

Having realized that 38 percent of accidents at the Watson Street site were related to manual handling, Paul decided to implement a robust and innovative manual handling education and awareness project, which included an overview of techniques, solutions to problems and safe operating procedures. This program has been very successful and is now being implemented on a national basis at other Pilkington sites.

Outstanding Organizational Performance

Less than 50 Employees-Pilkington (Gateshead)

650 days without a lost time accident is a solid achievement, but even more impressive is the significant progress this site has made over the past several years. Prior to 1999, little attention was given to health and safety; since then, however, a multitude of planning, training and assessment has taken place, and the result is a significantly safer place to work.

Less than 250 Employees-Rockware (Portland)

Achievements have been astounding for this category winner. Considering the number of employees, 350 days without a lost time accident is excellent. The company has also seen a 50% reduction in all accidents in the same time period. Training, education, state-of-the-art management systems, safety campaigns and union involvement have all played roles in helping the company achieve this success.

Over 250 Employees-Pilkington Primary Products (Greengate)

Safety is at the forefront of everyone's mind at this particular site, which has over 294 employees. The site has a lost time accident record of 350 days, and minor injuries have also been kept to a minimum. Some of the site's innovative campaigns include a daily newsletter, a sophisticated incident reporting system that is fed into a central computer and analyzed, learning points and corrective action plans circulated on all accidents, accident alert notices, and a program for training and raising awareness on all safety issues.


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