Exploding Tables

Reporter: Mark Gibson

How'd you be if THIS happened to our bell tower? This'll never happen to our Perth landmark.. because the glass was supplied by a local bloke, an expert in his field.. who can only imagine what would've happened if the glass had come from China.

Our expert is Ian Terriaca from Modern Glass.. he's been alarmed by Today Tonight's series exposing exploding glass tables. In fact, many others have too. We've been flooded with emails from around the country.

David says "It was something that was never really explained, really until your program brought it to air."It seems hundreds, maybe thousands have had tables that shatter without warning.

The story's even gone international. "A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the hundreds of consumers including Amy, whose patio tables have shattered." And it's not just outdoor tables.

Bianca says "This table here had just totally exploded."

When their table went bang, Bianca Sassu's husband grabbed the video camera."If there was my son here maybe it could've killed him."

Bianca says "If it had've happened maybe half an hour later when our son usually woke up and was at that age of one and a half crawling under the table at 6.30 in the morning, it would've killed him."

"I just can't believe it's happened to me twice."That's right, for David Cotton, lightning did strike twice."You go out the back and all you see is just glass all over the floor..." "Which begs the question, why did you get a second glass table? -Well it was easy just to replace the table to match the existing chairs." David's leading the charge to have these imported glass tables investigated."Maybe it's something that more Australian people and maybe the government need to get behind and make sure that the standards are higher on things that are imported."

"So what's going on? Why are these outdoor and indoor glass tables suddenly exploding? Well there's one common link, they're all made on the cheap in China and there's nothing Australian authorities are doing to stop it happening again."

Ian says "The importers of this product perhaps don't even bother checking out if they are certified to Australian standards, they just bring them in."

"So it's all about cost isn't it? -It's all about cost. -What about safety? -Noone takes that into consideration."

At Modern Glass's Maddington factory, they show us how glass is supposed to be toughened.. rolled into a giant furnace, blasted at 700 degrees.. then cooled down in a chilling machine.. that's where defective glass can and does explode.. well before you take it home. Ian Terriaca says the Aussie companies who import and sell glass tables must demand higher standards.

When it comes to glass tables, it seems there are few controls in place. Standards Australia told Today Tonight:

"There is a very small amount of glass furniture actually made or manufactured in Australia. As such, there has not been an Australian standard developed specifically for glass furniture or glass outdoor furniture."

Ian says "Anybody can put a stamp on a bit of glass but you can go through the right channels and definitely get it checked in Australia." We also contacted the main sellers of outdoor glass tables.

"Of the 65,000 glass top tables we've sold recently, we've had less than 40 complaints." John Slack-Smith from Harvey Norman says safety is a high priority. "The suppliers to Harvey Norman franchisees have regular and ongoing visits to factories to ensure that their quality certification and safety standards are as we would all expect."

Bunnings say that they have strong quality assurance procedures in place to ensure the products they sell are fit for purpose. They'll happily assist customers who wish to return or exchange faulty goods.

Segals say their tables have passsed safety tests in Europe, the USA and New Zealand. As a result of our story, they've decided to offer a 10 year guarantee on the glass in all their glass top tables... to show their total confidence in this excellent product.

Ian says "The importers should really try and work out where the glass is coming from really and should try and find out if the company in China is certified to make that sort of product."

Those who have witnessed glass tables exploding say never again. Bianca says "It looks nice, that's why we bought it, but just don't buy it, don't buy glass, maybe even if it's made in Australia, until we know that there is proper research and proper stringent regulations made."

They say bad luck runs in threes and after two exploding glass tables, David Cotton has made the switch to timber.

"Glass tables are obviously a safety issue, unless we can come up and maybe buy Australian and come up with something that's of a better quality."

"Ian should people be worried about this sort of thing happening? -Yeah they have to be worried about it, especially if they've got kids around either eliminate the fact that, don't put a tabletop with thin glass as such out in your outdoor area and go solid table, or have it laminated."

Bianca says "After hearing other people's experiences with outdoor settings, this weekend we're taking this to the dump."

If you have had problems with glass table contact us at tt@7perth.com.au