Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 267–271 | Cite as

A Fatal Accident Involving a Glass-Topped Cocktail Table

  • Alan A. Johnson
  • Randall J. Storey


A 25-year-old male fell backward onto a glass-topped cocktail table causing the untempered glass to break into shards, one of which entered his back causing a fatal injury. To investigate the accident, two exemplar tables were purchased. One of these, like the accident table, had an untempered glass tabletop, while the other had a tabletop which was tempered. The tabletop on each table rested on the table’s iron frame supported by iron tabs at each corner and at the mid-point of each edge. Impact tests were carried out by dropping bags of sand onto the center of a table being tested from a height corresponding to the center of gravity of the accident victim when standing. These tests showed that a 4.54-kg (10-lb) sandbag was sufficient to shatter an untempered tabletop. An 18.14-kg (40-lb) sandbag dropped on a tempered tabletop deformed the frame and mid-point tabs forcing the glass through the frame to the ground without breaking it. It was concluded that the use of untempered glass and other design flaws caused this cocktail table to be an unreasonably dangerous product. The litigation relating to this accident was settled out of court.


Cocktail table Coffee table Glass top Fracture Drop test 


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Copyright information

© ASM International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Metals Research Inc.GeorgetownUSA

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