Loss Prevention Security Reprint

Glass Retention Film
August 28, 2023
Loss Prevention Magazine Reprint
August 28, 2023

A Professional Risk Assessment

Rethinking your glass and window protection

Since September 11, major corporations, the military and the government have requested professional risk assessments of the glass in their facilities. That’s not surprising considering the effect the terrorist attack had on the nation.

What is surprising to most people is 85 percent of injuries from a bomb blast or industrial explosion are glass related, not structural. Most buildings are typically still standing afterward and, although they may be completely destroyed on the inside, the shattered windows catapult fragments of razor sharp glass over 150 miles per hour. People have lost fingers, hands and limbs as well as their lives.

What is also surprising is the glass in most buildings is not protected. While many companies have security professionals on staff, most are not trained in any kind of bomb-blast mitigation or preparedness scenarios, and most have no knowledge of glass-fragmentation retention. Security measures can only go so far. Bombs have been left in public lobbies where there is no access control, and a glass-break detector sends an alarm only after the fact.

Why is it Needed?

It’s important to talk to loss-prevention managers about their glass concerns. Most buildings in major cities use plate or anneal glass, which are the most inexpensive forms of glass and offer little or no protection. In addition to bomb blasts, explosions, smash-and-grab crimes and burglaries, certain sections of the country must take into account natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes or hailstorms.

The Walkthrough

A basic risk assessment of the property starts with a walkthrough to determine what needs to be done to secure the building’s windows. For major installations, photographs and videos should be taken.

During the walkthrough, the height of the building, what is next to the building and which side has the most pedestrians and traffic should be taken into account. If a window should shatter from an explosion, how far and how fast is the glass going to fall from the top of the building to the street side? Statistics help determine what size explosive device is likely to be used, which helps determine how high the building should be protected.

The Inside

The glass inside buildings is also a concern. Most revolving doors and some elevators are made of mostly glass. If a person were inside when an explosion occurred, he would be encased in glass or, in industry terms, buried in a glass coffin.

Equipment, such as computers and phone systems, should also be taken into account. For most businesses, damage to these areas could disrupt service and possibly shut them down.


For window protection, a company must choose between ballistic glass and window film from a company like ShatterGARD. Ballistic glass is about 300 percent more expensive than window film. In addition, management must consider removing existing windows and window frames, and possibly shutting down the facility. Window film can be retrofitted while the business is operating because there is no disruption to the employees and no toxic fumes.

For companies concerned with fragment retention (the technical term for keeping the glass in the frame) in case of an explosion, a product such as BlastGARD is recommended. For jewelry stores or retail vendors concerned with smash-and-grab crimes or breaking and entering, a product such as BurglarGARD is recommended. BurglarGARD is designed to withstand repeated strikes from a bat, axe, tire iron or rock—the most typical tools of vandals. If a company is concerned about natural disasters, a product like StormGARD—a film designed to stretch without tearing and to withstand high wind-load pressures—will meet its needs. In some cases, a company may choose to mix and match the films.

Existing Window Frames

Another key element in glass assessment is the existing window frames, which may be made of aluminum, steel or wood. This helps determine what strength film to use and the anchoring methods. There is a way of attaching the film to the window frame so it all becomes one structure, as opposed to the film just sitting on the glass surface. It’s actually attached to the frame with a flex-seal anchoring system. This chemical compound lays over the edge of the film, touching the frame. If there is an explosion, it assists in absorbing a large portion of the kinetic shock waves. If the explosion is large enough, the glass will shatter regardless of the anchoring system, but the anchoring will hold the entire pane within the frame.


While many of the projects taking place in New York City since 9/11 typically involve protection against acts of terrorism and explosions, that might not be what your business needs. Take another look at your windows. You might be surprised by what you see.

Jordan Frankel is vice president of ShatterGARD Inc. he can be reached at (888) 306-7998, ext. 14 or by email at jordan@shattergard.com.