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Pyrotechnics Industry - Retail Sales of Fireworks

Pyrotechnics include many devices to launch, detonate, or initiate an explosive material. This site discusses common hazards and controls for workers involved in the retail sale of fireworks.

Retail fireworks are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights selected OSHA standards and example enforcement actions related to retail sales of fireworks.

Note: 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.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

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.

Background

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.

Directives

Other Federal Standards

Other federal agencies have adopted regulations which may impact occupational hazards from the sale of pyrotechnics. These include the following:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

  • Office of Hazardous Materials Safety. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Provides links to the most frequently requested documents by shippers, carriers, Federal and State agencies, as well as members of the general public.

  • 49 CFR Subtitle B, Other regulations relating to transportation
    • 106, Rulemaking procedures
    • 107, Hazardous materials program procedures
    • 110, Hazardous materials public sector training and planning grants
    • 171, General information, regulations, and definitions
    • 172, Hazardous materials table, special provisions, hazardous materials communications, emergency response information, training requirements, and security plans
    • 173, Shippers - general requirements for shipments and packagings
    • 174, Carriage by rail
    • 175, Carriage by aircraft
    • 176, Carriage by vessel
    • 177, Carriage by public highway
    • 178, Specifications for packagings
    • 179, Specifications for tank cars
    • 180, Continuing qualification and maintenance of packagings

OSHA Guidance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled the following list of safety guidelines designed to advise owners of retail sales establishments and other affected employers of some procedures to enhance employee safety during the retail sale of consumer fireworks. It is important to understand that the accidental ignition and fire prevention measures should be followed to ensure a safe retail environment. Employers are encouraged to follow these or other more protective safety guidelines for the retail sale of consumer fireworks. These safety guidelines do not supersede any regulatory requirements adopted at the Federal, State, or local levels.

Safety Guidelines for Retail Sales of Consumer Fireworks [114 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. (2004, June).

General Guidelines for all sales venues

  • Obtain all necessary state and local permits, licenses, and inspections.

  • Post and enforce no smoking within 50 feet of fireworks sales areas.

  • Post and enforce no fireworks discharge within 300 feet of fireworks retail sales facilities and stores.

  • Maintain clear exit routes with a minimum of two ways out from every point.

  • Exit doors:
    • should not be locked when occupied;
    • should swing outward;
    • should not be obstructed; and
    • should have panic hardware if they latch (except for temporary stands).
  • Fire extinguishers should be operational and accessible. At least one should be a water type.

  • Secure (lock) the facility when closed and fireworks remain.

  • Remove damaged fireworks and loose pyrotechnic composition promptly and dispose of properly. Use non-sparking cleaning tools; not vacuum cleaners.

  • Maintain fixed fire protection features (i.e., keep fire doors closed).

  • Maintain required flame breaks in the retail sales displays unless the facility is sprinklered or temporary.

  • Maintain visual supervision of the fireworks sales area.

  • Do not store combustibles directly above fireworks displays unless properly separated.

  • Do not use open flames or heating devices with exposed elements.

  • Participate in safety training.

  • Aerial devices and audible ground devices require special attention and treatment. See National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1124, Sections 7.10.5 (4) and 7.10.6.

Consumer fireworks retail sales facilities and stores (except temporary stands)

  • Post an evacuation plan and understand how to implement it in an emergency.

  • Maintain aisles with a minimum 48 inches of clear width.

  • Maintain safe display arrangements not exceeding 6 feet in height except around the perimeter of the retail sales area which can not exceed 12 feet.

  • Ensure all fireworks displayed for sale have fuses which are covered or are contained in packaging.

  • Know the location of manual pull stations and/or public address system controls and how to use them to sound a fire alarm.

  • Check emergency lighting to see that it is functional.

  • Check for exit signs: location, visibility, and illumination.

  • Verify that there are at least three ways out of the fireworks sales areas (except one-story stores not exceeding 3,000 square feet can have two).

Consumer fireworks retail sales facilities only

  • Keep combustible debris at least 30 feet away from the facility.

  • Don't park vehicles within 10 feet of the facility.

  • Keep portable generators and their fuels at least 20 feet away from the facility.

Temporary stands* only

  • Maintain aisles with a minimum 28 inches of clear width.

  • Maintain a safe display arrangement of consumer fireworks not to exceed 8 feet in height.

  • Do not allow the public into the temporary stand. 

  • Verify there are at least two exit doors (doorways) that swing out.

Tents* only

  • Verify that no open flame cooking is located within 50 feet of tents (20 feet for other types of cooking).

  • Exit opening must be 44 inches wide.

For additional information on general safety and health concerns, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

*NOTE: Venues are defined in 1124, Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, Storage and Retail Sales of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Industry Best Practices

A wide variety of possible solutions can be implemented to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury associated with retail sales of fireworks. Example solutions include the use of good electrical safe work practices, use of signage, lockout/tagout, housekeeping, emergency action plans, and fire prevention plans. This page provides example industry best practices to control hazards.

American Pyrotechnics Association (APA)

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

  • Emergency Response Information for Consumer Fireworks (1.4G). Includes information for emergency responders:
    • During normal handling, storage and transportation, no chemical composition is released or exposed.
    • However, in the event of a vehicle fire or intense heat reaching the cargo area, the fireworks are likely to ignite. They will burn, spreading burning particles over a limited area. A mass explosion is not expected. Smoke and potentially-irritating gases will be produced in such a fire.
    • If fireworks are spilled in an accident but are in no danger of being ignited, they can safely be picked up and repackaged. The area should be kept clear of non-essential people while this is being done.
  • Storage of Consumer Fireworks. Provides information about finished consumer fireworks, they will:
    • not mass explode in a fire situation, because of the limited amount of pyrotechnic composition permitted in each individual unit.
    • merely burn at a controlled rate, and the fire can be fought by conventional methods. Such a fire could be fought using standard protective equipment, and the spread of the fire could be minimized by the application of water.
    • not require great separation distances when consumer fireworks--packaged, finished form--are stored in a warehouse.
    • not pose a fire hazard different from that of other combustible materials when stored in a typical retail sales location.

International Code Council (ICC)

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

  • International Fire Code (IFC). Addresses fire safety in new and existing buildings and together with the International Building Code, comprehensively references national standards.
    • Chapter 33: Fireworks and Explosives.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

  • 1, Uniform Fire Code, 2006 Edition.
  • Incorporates provisions form NFPA's Fire Prevention Code and Western Fire Chiefs Association's (WFCA's) Uniform Fire Code into one far-reaching document that serves the need of every jurisdiction. The 2003 Code offers guidance on vital fire prevention and fire protection topics.
    • Chapter 65, Explosives, Fireworks, and Model Rocketry.
  • 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, 2006 Edition. Provides guidance on equipment distribution, placement, maintenance, operation, and inspection, including testing and recharging.

  • NFPA 13, Standard Installation of Sprinkler Systems, 2002 Edition. Provides guidance for the character and adequacy of water supplies and the selection of sprinklers, piping, and valves.

  • 101, Life Safety Code, 2006 Edition. Adopted as law by jurisdictions in most states, the Life Safety Code has grown in scope to provide a minimum building design, construction, operation and maintenance requirements needed to protect building occupants from the dangers of fire, smoke, toxic fumes, and panic.

  • 1124, Code for Manufacture, Storage, and Retail Sales of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles, 2006 Edition. Regulates the construction, use, and maintenance of buildings and facilities for the manufacture and storage of fireworks at fireworks manufacturing facilities; the storage of display fireworks and pyrotechnic articles at other than display sites, the retail sales of consumer fireworks in retail sales facilities, and the transportation of fireworks on public highways.
    • Chapter 7, Retail Sales of Consumer Fireworks. Applies to the retail sales of consumer fireworks at consumer fireworks retail sales facilities or stores.

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.

    The general duty provisions can only be used where there is no standard that applies to the particular hazard involved.

Background

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 employees;

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.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Training

  • American Pyrotechnics Association (APA). The APA is a leading trade association of the pyrotechnics industry. The association supports and promotes safety standards for all aspects of pyrotechnics. Its diverse membership includes regulated and licensed manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, importers and suppliers of pyrotechnics, and professional public display companies.

    Safety training is also provided. Training materials include:

    • Consumer Fireworks Testing

    • OSHA Hazard Communication Manual and Videotape

    • OSHA Process Safety Mgmt Manual

    • DOT Training Manual (updated 2004)

    • Fireworks Transportation and Handling Safety (DOT Training Video)

    • EPA Right-to-Know Manual

    • Fireworks Safety - Retail Fireworks Sales Poster
  • Fireworks Safety - Retail Fireworks Sales. OSHA and American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) Alliance Alliance Publication 3248-04N-05. Also available as a 480 KB PDF Poster or a 3 MB PDF.

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.
    • Fireworks Safety. NFPA does not endorse the use of consumer fireworks and instead encourages the public to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.
    • Find an NFPA Code and Standard. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). List of current NFPA codes and standards with links to full online text version. NFPA serves as the world's leading advocate of fire prevention and is an authoritative source on public safety.

Other Resources

  • Emergency Exit Routes [72 KB PDF*, 3 pages], (2003). OSHA Fact Sheet. Provides a series of questions and answers for emergency exit routes.

  • Planning and Responding to Workplace Emergencies [22 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. (2004, April). OSHA Fact Sheet. Includes information on planning, chain of command, emergency response teams, response activities, training, personal protective equipment and medical assistance. Recommends reviewing plans with employees when initially put in place and re-evaluation and amendment of the plan periodically whenever the plan itself, or employee responsibilities, change.

  • How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations. OSHA Publication 3088, (Revised 2001). Also available as a 251 KB PDF, 25 pages. Designed to help the employer plan for the possibility that company employees could be forced to evacuate when least expected. The best protection is to expect the unexpected and develop a well thought-out emergency action plan as a guide when immediate action is necessary.

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

*These files are provided for downloading.