As American as baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie, fireworks have long been a traditional part of July Fourth celebrations and other special events. Unfortunately, serious injuries and worse can happen when important safety standards are ignored in the workplace as well as in the community.
With that in mind, leading up to Independence Day, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) are reminding everyone to stay safe while having their holiday fun.
On the workplace front, OSHA is strongly urging employers in the fireworks and pyrotechnics industry to keep employees safe from the many hazards that exist in manufacturing, storing, transporting, displaying, and sales. Earlier this month, OSHA cited a Florida-based entertainment company after four workers died and a fifth suffered critical injuries in Orlando, Florida, after a fire and explosion at a fireworks warehouse. The agency determined that an ignition source sparked a fire and explosions as a team of workers readied fireworks for a local show.
As companies prepare fireworks displays, employers must train workers properly in a language they understand, and make certain that employees take appropriate measures to safeguard volatile devices from causing serious and potentially fatal injuries.
OSHA provides the pyrotechnics industry with safety information about common hazards and controls for workers in retail fireworks sales and in outdoor fireworks displays. You can also download workplace safety posters and view a training video on best industry practices for retail sales and manufacturers informed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) consensus standards.
Fireworks Safety At Home, In The Community
The popularity of consumer fireworks continues to grow each year: Consumer fireworks retailers predict that sales will increase by approximately $100 million from 2022 as families begin to prepare for their annual Fourth of July celebrations, according to the APA.
Last year, American consumers spent approximately $2.3 billion on fireworks for the Fourth of July, a $100 million increase over 2021.
“Our member companies are reporting strong consumer fireworks sales numbers and we predict revenues could exceed $2.3 billion for the 2023 fireworks season,” said Julie L. Heckman, Executive Director of the APA.
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“Fireworks use is expected to hit an all-time high this year, especially with July 4 falling on a Tuesday,” Heckman continued. “While the number of fireworks-related injuries has declined significantly, safety must always be the number one priority when using fireworks.”
Heckman also emphasized the importance of only purchasing legal consumer fireworks, leaving professional-grade fireworks to the pros. These more powerful fireworks don’t include necessary consumer instructions, so need to be restricted to those who are properly trained to handle them in accordance with local permitting, licensing, insurance and in compliance with state and local codes and standards.
To help families celebrate safely, the APA’s foundation released a safety video series that consumers can reference to help ensure a legal, safe, and fun celebration. The videos are aimed at educating the public about the safe use of legal consumer fireworks, providing tips on proper use, selecting the right location, audience safety, and disposal. Recognizing sparklers and reloadable aerial shells are popular items and attributable to a large percentage of fireworks-related injuries, the foundation also produced specific videos to address their safe and proper usage.