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OSHA Standards

State Standards

Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these states adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some states have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies. All states have additional laws regulating pyrotechnics. The American Pyrotechnics Association maintains a directory of State Laws available in PDF format.

This section highlights selected OSHA standards, standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) and example enforcement actions related to fireworks display.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)

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.
Standard Interpretations
Example Enforcement Actions
  • Three Employees Killed, One Injured In Fireworks Accident. OSHA Accident Report, (1997, July 3). Describes an enforcement action in a fireworks display from a barge, a shell hit the deck of the barge, landing between the "ready box" that contained additional shells and the 4 ft coaming on the starboard side. The shell exploded upon impact with the steel floor, two employees escaped into the water. Another hung onto the side of the barge, and sustained an injury to his right ankle. The third employee was killed where he stood, consumed by the flames generated in the numerous explosions that followed. The two employees who leaped off the prow of the barge drowned. Neither were wearing life preservers. Their bodies were found downriver the next morning.
    • 5(a)(1) Violation: Employees were exposed to the hazards of being burned due to the premature ignition of three-inch through six-inch pyrotechnic shells. The wooden "ready box" containing these pyrotechnic shells was not equipped with a self-closing lid. One method of abatement to correct this apparent hazard is to equip each "ready box" with a self-closing lid as required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1123, paragraph 2-2.4.1.
    • 5(a)(1) Violation: Employees were exposed to the hazards of being burned due to the premature ignition of pyrotechnic shells. One method of abatement to correct this apparent hazard is to place all pyrotechnic shells into the "ready box" prior to the fireworks display as required by NFPA 1123, paragraph 2- 2.4.2.
    • 5(a)(1) Violation: Employees were exposed to the hazards of being burned due to due to the mortar tubes not being separated from the drum walls by a minimum of five inches. The hazards of mortar displacement and lack of protection to guard against a premature shell detonation inside the tube existed. One method of abatement to correct these apparent hazards is to arrange the individual mortar tubes so that they are separated from the drum walls by a minimum of five inches as required by NFPA 1123, paragraph 2-
  • Four Employees Killed In Explosion At Pyrotechnics Storage. OSHA Accident Report, (1997, June 5). Describes an enforcement action involving two employees inside a pyrotechnics storage magazine, preparing fireworks for a display show. An explosion occurred, and both employees were killed when struck by flying pieces of metal. The charges apparently went off prematurely.
  • One Employee Killed And One Injured By Igniting Fireworks. OSHA Accident Report, (1995, August 19). Describes an enforcement action in which two employees were setting up a fireworks display. Several shells had been loaded in their respective mortars in a wooden rack. The first employee was using a manual staple gun to staple the quick matches to the top of the rack, when one of the mortars fired, striking him in the face. He died and his coworker suffered minor burns to his face and neck. The cause of the ignition of the shell was believed to be a spark from the steel staple striking dirt on the wood rack or friction igniting the quick match.
    • 5(a)(1) Violation: Employees were exposed to the hazards of being burned due to the premature ignition of pyrotechnic shells. Employees were exposed to the hazards of ignition of the quick match and subsequent premature ignition of pyrotechnic shell in that the quick match was left outside of the mortar and exposed to potential sources of ignition including, but not limited to, stapling of the match to the rack frame. Abatement Note: Among other methods, one feasible and acceptable abatement method to address these hazards is to use rubber bands to secure the quick match to the mortar tubes.
    • Standard Cited: 1910.132, Personal Protective Equipment, General Requirements.
    • Standard Cited: 1910.133, Eye and Face Protection.
Consensus Standards and the General Duty Clause

Using Consensus standards to support a 5(a)(1) Citation:

A consensus standard can be used to show "industry recognition" of a hazard. However, the hazard must be recognized in the employers' industry, not an industry other than the employers' industry.

Section 5(a)(1):

  • is not used to enforce "should" standards.
  • is not used to require abatement methods not required by a specific standard.
  • is not normally used to cover categories of hazards exempted by an OSHA standard.


Section 5(a)(1):

  • Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employee;
  • The general duty provisions can only be used where there is no standard that applies to the particular hazard involved.

Evaluation of Potential 5(a)(1) situations:

  • Employer failed to keep workplace free of hazards to which employees of that employer were exposed.
    • Must involve a serious hazard and employee exposure
    • Does not specify a particular abatement method - only that the employer keeps the workplace free of serious hazards by any feasible and effective means.
    • The hazard must be reasonably foreseeable.
  • The hazard was recognized.
    • Industry recognition
    • Employer recognition
    • Common-sense recognition
  • The hazard caused or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
  • Feasible means to correct the hazard were available.

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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