Vision Panel

Last updated: September 3, 2019

What Does Vision Panel Mean?

A vision panel is a window placed within a door so people can see what's on the other side of the door without opening it. This panel provides workers with the ability to efficiently monitor activity on the other side of the door, something which may be necessary in potentially hazardous settings. For example, vision panels are recognized as important in laboratory settings in which there is a possibility that the laboratory could become contaminated with a toxic substance and require quarantine.

Vision panels are most heavily associated with fire safety. Many fire-rated doors contain vision panels—which must be fire-rated just like the door itself—as they provide the ability to assess the fire on the other side of the door without opening it. The use of vision panels within fire doors is subject to a variety of building and fire codes designed to ensure that their use does not weaken the integrity of the fire door.

Safeopedia Explains Vision Panel

The main safety purpose of vision panels is to allow people on one side of a door to safely assess whether there is a hazard on the other side of the door without opening it. They are also used to reduce the risk of a collision between persons approaching the door from opposite sides. In the UK, workplaces must place a vision panel within all doors that can swing in both directions.

Vision panels used in fire doors are subject to various maximum size restrictions designed to ensure they are durable enough to remain intact during a fire. For instance, the 2012 International Building Code (IBC)—a model code that is used as the basis for numerous building codes worldwide—limits vision panels made with fire-protective glass and used in 60- or 90-minute fire doors to a maximum size of 100 square inches. Larger vision panels must also be treated with fire-resistive glazing that has been approved to meet the ASTM E119 testing standard.

The National Fire Protection Association’s standard for fire doors (NFPA 80) contains similar requirements to the IBC code. Relevant safety codes for vision panels used in fire doors also require that the glass used in the panel be impact-safe so it won’t shatter if subjected to a sudden shock.

In addition to enhancing fire safety, lab safety, and other hazard-recognition issues that can be improved by increasing visibility, vision panels are also recognized as important to the prevention of workplace bullying. Increasing the amount of transparency in a workspace minimizes the ability of a worker or employer to bully another worker without his or her actions being seen by others.


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