Fireworks company fights fine in fatality case
A 27-year-old nephew of the owner of the company, who worked evenings and weekends helping set off fireworks, was killed when the display exploded early and one of the shells struck him in the head.
The company has disputed the violations and will appear before an administrative law judge to answer the charges, said OSHA's area director. If found guilty, the company could be fined up to $4,750.
The victim had trouble getting a fuse to light during the show's finale, according to reports. On his third try, the fireworks exploded, setting off several others on the ground.
OSHA concluded the company failed to assess workplace hazards, ensure that employees wear eye protection, provide protective helmets, maintain and inspect its fire extinguishers, and provide fire extinguisher training. Such failures led to exposing employees "to the hazard of being struck or burned by exploding pyrotechnics," according to OSHA.
Relatives of the victim said weather might have been a factor, according to the article. It had been raining when the display was set up, and moisture could have dampened chemicals in the fireworks, stifling the charge needed to get out of the pipe.
"We still haven't figured out what happened that night," a company official told the newspaper. "We haven't made any changes. We're doing things just the way we've always done it."