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
1910 Subpart S, Electrical. Covers general requirements for the practical safeguarding of employees in their workplaces from electrical hazards. Special attention should be given to 29 CFR 1910.307, Hazardous (classified), this section covers the requirements for electric equipment and wiring in locations which are classified depending on the properties of the flammable vapors, liquids, or gases, or combustible dusts or fibers which may be present therein and the likelihood that a flammable or combustible concentration or quantity is present.
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 2-22.214.171.124.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The hazard caused or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Feasible means to correct the hazard were available.
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