Don’t Let Fireworks Fry Your Fourth

July 1, 2011
Fireworks can be fun and are a staple when celebrating the Fourth of July, but OSHA and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) are warning both workers and employers that they can be dangerous too

Fireworks can be fun and are a staple when celebrating the Fourth of July, but OSHA and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) are warning both workers and employers that they can be dangerous too.

OSHA is warning employers in the fireworks/pyrotechnics industry to protect their workers from hazards they face while handling fireworks for public events.

“Workers who are not properly trained and protected from hazards in this potentially volatile industry are at an increased risk of serious or fatal injuries,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Employers who manufacture, sell, display or work around pyrotechnics need to recognize potential hazards and prevent worker injuries. This holiday weekend is a time for family and fun, but it should not be at the expense of the workers who play such a large part of our celebrations.”

OSHA offers a Safety and Health Topics page that addresses two sectors in the pyrotechnics industry: retail sales of fireworks and fireworks display. The page includes descriptions of common hazards and solutions found in both areas of the industry, downloadable safety posters for workplaces where fireworks are handled, and a video demonstrating best industry practices for retail sales and manufacturers based on National Fire Protection Association consensus standards.

AIHA has gathered tips from the National Council on Firework Safety to keep the Fourth of July holiday safe and fun.

When purchasing fireworks:
• Never purchase a firework that does not display a label.
• Know what type of firework you are purchasing and what type of display can be expected.
• Obey local laws. Be sure to purchase only fireworks legal in your region.

When setting up fireworks:
• Only use fireworks outdoors, in an open-air area free from ceilings or barriers.
• Always have water on hand.

When igniting fireworks:
• Do not allow young children to light or handle fireworks. Teens should be closely supervised.
• Fireworks and alcohol don’t mix. Pick a “designated” shooter.
• Eye protection, such as safety glasses, should be worn whenever using fireworks.
• Never attempt to relight a “dud” firework. After waiting 20 minutes, soak the firework in a bucket of water.

Cleaning up after fireworks:
• Used fireworks should be soaked in water before placed in an outdoor disposal container.

For more summer safety tips, read “Summertime Blues” in the July issue of EHS Today magazine.

Related articles:

Off-the-Job Safety: Fireworks Safety
Parents need to be especially vigilant during this period, ensuring children do not possess illegal fireworks or mishandle legal ones. Despite federal and state regulations on the type of fireworks available for sale to the public, even fireworks sold legally carry an elevated risk of personal injury. Because of this, the safest way to enjoy them is through public displays.

At-Home Safety: Avoid Fireworks-Related Eye Injuries this Fourth of July
While fireworks are one of the highlights of the Fourth of July holiday, a mistake can turn their beauty into permanent injury, eye damage or blindness.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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