WA Management provides professional, adaptable and appropriate solutions for your Health and Safety needs. Each fortnight, our research blog takes a detailed look at particularly topical areas of the sector, or risks that are repeatedly overlooked. This week, we tie in our research with our recently unveiled ‘Hazard of the Month’, which for November is Fireworks. What are the risks? How can we mitigate them and enjoy them safely?
Entertainment with a BANG
The delightful whistle and thunderous bang of a rocket; the fizzling, crackling beauty of a cartwheel that spins through the crisp winter sky. Such marvellous colours and sounds make fireworks a truly, innately wonderful spectacle to behold. They tap into a fantastic sense of wonder and provide great fun for children and adults alike. With events such as the recent Bonfire Night, as well as Diwali, Christmas and New Year, fireworks can energise an often cold and drab part of the year.
But, as you crane your marvelling eyes upwards this winter, are you and your loved ones familiar with some of the worryingly common risks associated with fireworks? We have done the hard work in this blog; tracing the origins of the traditions, some of the major hazards associated, as well as ways to mitigate the risks; thus meaning you can add a BANG to your festivities in a Health and Safety conscious manner.
Lighting the fuse: origins of the firework
The earliest recorded manufacturing and usage of fireworks for aesthetic and entertainment purposes dates back to the Tang Dynasty of 9th-Century China. Skilled pyro-technicians uncovered ways by which different chemical compounds could be mixed with small amounts of gunpowder to produce unique and easily-identifiable colours. These rudimentary fireworks would accompany festivities, and their huge expense symbolised wealth and power.
Fireworks of this nature generally moved westward through the Arabic spice trades of the 13th Century; though Chinese specialists were still regarded as pioneers of the art. It was not until the rise of empirical scientific study in Industrial Europe that the West began to catch up. Chemists realised which particular compounds produced which vibrant colours, and refined the process into the modern firework we know and love today.
An explosive blast-off: what are the dangers of fireworks?
Despite this millennium-long process of refinement though, there are still a HUGE number of risks associated with fireworks even today. One has to remember that, although small, they are still contained explosives. Here are some of the major hazards of fireworks:
- Explosive damage: Possibly the most obvious, as fireworks and their explosive shrapnel can cause life-changing and even fatal injuries. Click the link HERE for a video demonstrating the explosive dangers of fireworks.
- Fire safety: not only can the shrapnel of fireworks start fires miles away from the launch site, but handling fireworks can scold and even chemically burn. Read a recent article HERE on a petition for fireworks to have similar packaging to cigarettes, highlighting the health risks.
- Animal welfare: Domestic pets can often be petrified of fireworks. Ensure that you implement measures to soothe and calm your animals.
- Crowd safety: Fireworks nearly always accompany crowded events, and whilst the generally recommended exclusion zone is 30m, many event organisers do not strictly implement this.
A family-friendly finale: how can you keep your loved ones safe?
As with all of our blogs, we are not aiming to drain all of the fun from fireworks. Quite the opposite; we want everyone to have a enjoyable time, but to do so in a safe way. Pertaining to the risks above, here is a handy dos and don’ts list to keep in mind for your next event or gathering.
And as always, if you have any concerns about event or personal safety, make sure you contact WA Management HERE today for a free quotation. Our specialist, expert consultants are on hand to ensure that you, as an employer or organiser, have a safe and enjoyable time. Our expertise includes everything from pyrotechnic to machine safety; alcohol awareness to GDPR. Give us a call, and receive peace of mind, today!