Glass coffee tables pose a surprisingly serious risk of major injury and even death, according to a new study.
Scientists at Rutgers University found that more than 2.5 million injuries involving glass tables are reported every year.
Most incidents occurred when the person fell onto glass tables, often breaking through, or were cut by glass after the table was broken.
In one hospital, half of the patients who had a glass-table accident required surgery, with eight percent dying within a month.
Researchers urge new legislation and public safety campaigns to protect consumers against the dangers of glass coffee tables.
According to a new study in the American Journal of Surgery, 2.5 million injuries occur every year as a result of glass tables. Most accidents involved people falling onto a table and breaking it or being cut by glass after the table was broken
The study, published in the latest issue of The American Journal of Surgery, looked at two dozen cases from a level 1 trauma center and 3,241 cases in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database between 2009 and 2015.
Maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the NEISS database takes statistical samplings from roughly 100 hospitals with 24-hour ERs to gather data on consumer product-related injuries.
More than 1,800 injuries relating to glass tables were reported in all, from bruises and lacerations to damage to major organs and even death.
Frequently injured areas included the forehead, wrist, hand and upper body.
More than 1,800 injuries relating to glass tables were reported in all that include bruises and lacerations to damage to major organs and even death. Frequently injured areas included the forehead, wrist, hand and upper body
In the NEISS database, 1,792 of the faulty table injuries were lacerations and 24 were blunt injuries resulting from a fall.
About 15 percent of the injuries in the system were classified as severe, including ones to the upper and lower trunk and the wrist.
At the trauma center, more than half of the patients suffered serious injury and required surgery, with eight percent dying within a month of their accident.
While falls are often associated with the elderly, most of the victims were either under age 7 or in their early twenties.
Typically, injuries occurred when people fell onto glass tables, often breaking through, or were cut by glass after the table was broken.
Glass table injuries are common, according to the report, which estimated there are more than 2.5 million every year, many of which require a visit to the ER or urgent care clinic.
Most glass dining room and coffee tables are made of plate glass, not tempered glass.
Tempered glass is treated with chemicals or heat to make crumble into small chunks when broken, rather than breaking into jagged shards like plate glass.
Offering a safer alternative, tempered glass is used in car windows, shower doors, and even smartphone screens.
Tempered glass is mandatory for some uses but not for horizontal surfaces like tabletops, which are more likely to break into sharp edges and cause severe lacerations.
“It is imperative to push for stricter regulation as consumers of glass tables should not be incurring life-threatening trauma injuries due to neglect of manufacturers in not using tempered glass,” said study author Stephanie Bonne, a professor of surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.