A favorite tradition that goes along with Independence Day celebrations is not without hazards for the workers who must make it happen. OSHA’s archives contain several stories of fatal incidents involving fireworks.
In a 1997 one in Alton, Illinois, four employees were putting on a fireworks display from a barge. A mortar was lighted and began to ascend – but only reached 10 feet high before it began to come back down. When it did, it struck a box containing shells and exploded. One worker survived. Two drowned after leaping off the prow of the barge; neither were wearing life preservers. The fourth, according to the OSHA report, ”was killed where he stood, consumed by the flames generated in the numerous explosions that followed.”
OSHA addresses fireworks displays in specific standards for general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring and construction. Covered in the standards; means of egress; noise exposure; hazardous materials (i.e. compressed gases, explosives and blasting agents); eye and face protection; first aid and fire extinguishers.
More information can be found at:
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)
Longshoring (29 CFR 1918) (Maritime activities, such as the launching aerial displays from barges, must comply with the maritime standards.)
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926) (Construction activities, such as the building and removal of the display structures, must comply with the construction standards.)