Protecting Pyrotechnic Workers from Potential Occupational Hazards Associated with Fireworks
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry of the need to protect employees with health and safety programs.
Lansing, MI -- This year, the United States will celebrate its 241st birthday. Communities across the country mark the anniversary with parades and firework displays. These fireworks have become synonymous with the 4th of July holiday and according to an article that appeared last year in USA Today, Americans annually use over 285 million pounds of consumer and display fireworks. More than $1 billion is spent on these items and the vast majority of fireworks are used around this holiday.
While the use of fireworks is a time-honored tradition, the production, distribution, sale and use of these products are also tragically associated with firework-related injuries and deaths. In fact, the same USA Today article reports that 67% of all of these associated injuries happen around the July 4th timeframe
For workers involved in the pyrotechnics industry, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides information about common hazards and solutions. For those involved with retail sales, the agency provides the following safety tips:
· Keep exits clear and accessible.
· Know all exit routes.
· Maintain view of fireworks.
· Know alarm procedures.
· Know fire extinguisher location and operation.
· Remove and dispose of damaged fireworks.
· Remove loose pyrotechnic powder promptly.
· Use only non-sparking tools; do not use vacuum cleaners.
· Do not allow smoking within 50 feet of sales area.
· Keep facilities secure.
OSHA also offers tips to firework display operators. These include:
· 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.
· Prohibit accidental ignition sources.
· 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.
“Accidents can happen with the use of fireworks, but these can be greatly minimized in most circumstances if the proper health and safety precautions are put in place,” said David Roskelley, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Fireworks don’t just pose an explosion risk, they are also the cause of thousands of fires and those who regularly work with display operations could be exposed to respiratory hazards. Certified Industrial Hygienists are uniquely qualified to help protect workers from these and other potential occupational hazards while also helping to provide a safe environment for the public. CIHs are trained in risks assessments; air sampling and instrumentational analysis; engineering controls and ventilation; health risk analysis and hazard communication; and work environments and industrial processes. This knowledge, in addition to administrative controls and the proper use of personal protective equipment, can be instrumental in reducing exposure risks and many of the hazards associated with the pyrotechnics industry.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.