Firework season is upon us and along with the fun and excitement of an explosive celestial show comes an increase in job hazards in the pyrotechnic industry. With the influx of business approaching this industry, it’s important to remember the need to keep workers safe. Hazards in the pyrotechnic industry occur in the manufacturing, storing, transporting, displaying, and selling stages.
Device malfunction and improper use are cited as the most common cause of injuries throughout the Fourth of July season. According to OSHA, in 2018 a woman was setting up equipment for a fireworks display when a fire or explosion occurred which resulted in the woman’s death. In 2015 three employees were killed while handling and manufacturing fireworks. There are several more instances of firework display workers being injured in the workplace.
To combat these preventable deaths and injuries, OSHA offers 10 tips to protect firework display operators:
• Make sure personnel are trained and competent
• Obtain required licenses, permits, and inspections
• Maintain display site security and communications
• Wear protective gear and proper clothing
• Properly install mortar boxes, racks, and drums
• Keep fireworks cartons closed
• Keep fireworks dry and in good condition
• Always handle fireworks carefully
• Stay away from loaded mortars
• Wear appropriate Person Protective Equipment (PPE)
Another factor weighing into this industry’s hazards are the employment of an often seasonal, young workforce. Young workers experience unique hazards and are injured at a higher rate of a more experienced workforce. Read our article on youth in the workforce for more information on keep young workers safe.
In addition to workplace incidents, the Fourth of July season is especially hazardous to the consumer. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2017, eight fireworks-related deaths occurred with an average of 7.25 reports of firework-related deaths between 2002 and 2017. Additionally, there were 12,900 reported firework-related injuries in 2017.
The CSPC recommends that young children be barred from playing or igniting fireworks, always have an adult present, never place body parts directly over fireworks when lighting, neve re-light or pick up fireworks that haven’t fully ignited, and keep a bucket of water nearby when lighting fireworks. For more consumer safety information, visit the CPSC website.
It’s also important to factor in weather conditions when lighting fireworks. Certain parts of the country are subject to “Fire Weather Zones” where dry conditions can result in large scale fires. The National Weather Service has a map that highlights these areas.
Have a safe and fun Fourth of July everyone!