Glass handling techniques

Content courtesy of
July 22, 2008

In the glazing industry, more injuries occur from improper lifting of heavy objects than from any other cause. The American Red Cross recommends: Think ahead. Know where the load is going, and be sure that the path is clear. Remove protruding nails, splinters, sharp edges, oil, grease or moisture. Plant your feet firmly apart. Squat, do not lean forward. Keep your back as straight as possible, and get a good grip on the object. Lift slowly, pushing up with the strong thigh and leg muscles. Do not jerk the object upward or twist the trunk of your body while lifting. If the load is too heavy or bulky, get help. To lower a heavy object, reverse these steps. Be sure to wear a hard hat, steel-toe shoes and safety glasses or goggles before opening a case. Make sure that the case is secure and will not topple.

To open the case, follow the ten steps below:

1. Using aviation snips, cut the steel band at the top of the case. This band is under tension, so be careful it does not fly loose. Usually, only the first band has to be cut, but in some cases it may be necessary to cut the second band as well.

2. Remove the band from the case and dispose of it properly. Do not throw it on the floor where it can become a hazard.

3. If you are using a reciprocating saw, insert the blade between the end cap and the face board at the top of the case. Saw through the nails that join the end cap and face board. Repeat this procedure at the top and bottom of the case.

4. If a reciprocating saw is not available, insert the pry bar between the end caps and face board at the middle of the case. Drive the pry bar into the joint with a hammer, but be careful to not drive too deeply. Work the pry bar upward from the middle and then downward from the middle to separate the boards at the joint. Be mindful of other cases in the area; you don't want to damage the glass in the other cases.

5. Repeat the procedure for both sides of the case.

6. Pull out the face board. It's safer to stand on the side of the case as you pull out the face board instead of pulling it directly toward you. When the board is removed, bend down all the nails and dispose of the board properly.

7. Cut out the remaining nails from the side of the case with the side cutters and drive them out with a hammer. This ensures that the glass does not catch on a nail when pulled from the case.

8. Remove the packing material from the case.

9. Split the case at the top to relieve the tension.

10. Be sure the bottom and side of the case are clean before trying to remove glass.

Equipment requirements
Have the following equipment on hand before opening a case:
• Aviation snips
 • Pliers
• Side cutters
• Hammer
• Pry bar
• Reciprocating saw, if available

Content courtesy of, a state-of-the-art online technical school created by the National Glass Association, McLean, Va., to provide commercial, retail and auto glass companies a convenient, affordable and comprehensive resource for improving worker skills, enhancing workplace safety and achieving professional certification. For more information, visit