Be a bright spark, stick to the rules

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November? It could be a date some companies may want to forget if they fail to follow legal guidelines for their fireworks display.

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November? It could be a date some companies may want to forget if they fail to follow legal guidelines for their fireworks display.

That's the warning from UK experts in health and safety, Croner.

Companies due to organise or host fireworks this November are reminded that they must comply with the Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004, which place a number of prohibitions on importing, selling, possessing and using fireworks.

In addition, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, any company holding a non-domestic fireworks display, whether it's a small event at a local pub or a corporate event, has a 'duty of care' to both employees and anyone 'affected by' the event.

Those affected can include spectators, nearby residents and the general public.

Employers should be aware that a fireworks display involving staff is classed as a work activity and is therefore covered by the Act and subsidiary legislation.

This places duties on the employer in respect of the health and safety of everyone involved in arranging and giving the display, any spectators and other individuals who are near the display site.

Nasar Farooq, health and safety technical manager at Croner, says: "Non-domestic displays, whether it be a private corporate event, or one that is open to the public, present a risk to spectators, nearby residents, pets and wildlife.

"Businesses are responsible for identifying and minimising the risk and potential nuisance created by such displays. Should an incident occur, they could face up to two years imprisonment if referred to a Higher Court.

"So employers must be aware of the regulations and take steps to ensure they are compliant."

Nasar added: "Unfortunately there are a large number of accidents involving fireworks every year, especially at the hands of the inexperienced.

"Businesses must demonstrate that they have taken all possible steps to minimise the risks to the safety of their employees and those affected by the event.

"We also advise companies to follow health and safety guidelines and keep up-to-date with firework legislation."

Croner is offering the following advice to all employers looking to stage a firework display this Bonfire Night:

If in any doubt about the legislative requirements or ability to set up and operate a display, a competent and professional display organiser and operator should be hired.

Undertake a risk assessment to identify all risks associated with firework displays and bonfires.

Inform the local police, fire brigade, local enforcing authority, residents and institutions (ie hospitals and care homes) about the display.

Define and control the display site boundaries (ie. where the fireworks are going to be set off).

Check the site in daylight to ensure that there are no obstructions such as buildings, overhead cables and overhanging trees.

Provide adequate fire fighting facilities and train stewards in their use.

Have at least one suitably equipped first aid point, manned by a fully qualified first aider.

Use only fireworks that are classified to British Standard BS7114:1988 and store them in a secure, dry place with no possible sources of ignition.

Make contingency plans for any possible unplanned events (eg. ignition of fireworks, disorderly spectator behaviour, or the bonfire getting out of control).

Prohibit spectators from bringing their own fireworks to the display.


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