With Independence Day celebrations approaching, OSHA is encouraging the fireworks and pyrotechnics industry to begin taking steps now to protect workers from hazards while manufacturing, storing, transporting, displaying, and selling fireworks.
OSHA has compiled a list of safety guidelines designed to advise owners of retail sales establishments and other affected employers of some procedures to enhance employee safety during the retail sale of consumer fireworks.
According to a Consumer Products Safety Council (CPSC) report, 9,100 injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during 2018. On average, 280 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.
The report shows that:
Among the different types of fireworks, firecrackers accounted for 19 percent of the estimated injuries during the special study period.
Other statistics show:
- Reloadable shells were involved in 12 percent;
- Sparklers were associated with 9 percent;
- Multiple tube devices were involved in 8 percent of the estimated injuries and Roman candles were related to 7 percent;
- Novelty devices were associated with 4 percent of the estimated injuries;
- Bottle rockets and other rockets each accounted for 3 percent of the estimated injuries;
- Public display of fireworks was involved in 2 percent of the estimated injuries; and
- Fountains and homemade/altered devices each were associated with less than 1 percent of the estimated injuries.
Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and nearly 17,000 other fires.
The National Safety Council reports that 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20. Over two-thirds (67%) of injuries took place from June 16 to July 16. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.
The CPSC recommends the following when using fireworks:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.