A former student is suing the Halton Catholic District School Board for $5-million in damages over a serious injury he sustained last year that has caused permanent damage.
19-year-old Sean Lloyd says he was jogging to his grade 12 class last May when the wired glass of a door fractured as he tried to push it open.
The door is one with a bar that should be pushed to open it. But Lloyd's lawyer, Michael Smitiuch, says the door was known to never latch properly and students got used to simply pushing the glass portion.
"He's left with serious disfigurement and scarring," Smitiuch says. "He's left with some functional restriction."
A lack of sensation in the forearm is also expected to be permanent.
Wired glass is used in many schools across the country as a fire retardant.
"The purpose of the wire is to keep the glass intact in case of fire," says University of Toronto materials science and engineering professor Doug Perovic.
Experts have been warning for many years, though, that the glass is also weakened by the wire to any kind of impact.
"In the U.S., there are, in many states, advocacy groups that have been successful to replace wired glass from schools completely," Perovic adds.
Meanwhile in Canada, Smitiuch says we're "very far behind" in terms of standards.
Smitiuch says he hopes the lawsuit will convince school boards to replace or reinforce the glass, and lead to new federal legislation banning the wired material.
It can be expensive to replace all the wired glass in every school, but Perovic says there is a cheaper option. A polymer can be adhered to the glass that would prevent it from fracturing on impact.
"Ultimately, cost should not be a consideration when you're talking about the safety of children," Smitiuch says.