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Reduce the Risk of Displaying Fireworks

Brian Brookes, Risk Manager for BHIB, discusses this subject with this years bonfire night celebrations now only a few weeks away: –

Fireworks are an indispensable part of celebrations such as Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve. When you put on a special event with fireworks, take precautions to reduce the risks and keep your employees and spectators injury-free.

Know the Risks

Injuries and accidents mainly occur because many people do not realise just how dangerous fireworks can be. There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3; but remember, category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal. All fireworks pose potential risks of burns, blindness and other injuries. Educate any employees by providing them with recommendations for using fireworks safely.

Be Prepared

  • Make sure the site is suitable for your display. Is there space for the fireworks to land well away from spectators? Remember to check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? What would happen if it changed? Are there any major roads that could be affected by smoke?
  • Check the weather. Check reports both before and on the day of the event.
  • Contact your local emergency services. This will keep them informed of your plans, and give them plenty of advance notice.
  • Arrange for the proper delivery, storage and use of your fireworks. Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier. Ensure that your employees are properly trained on all tasks. The morning after, carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely.
  • Plan for proper crowd control. Post all appropriate signs, keep spectators a safe distance from the firing area and locate car parking well away from the display area. Arrange for plenty of stewards to be responsible for keeping spectators safe. Mark exit routes clearly and ensure they are well lit. Ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site.
  • Plan for what to do if things go wrong. Ensure you have enough fire extinguishers and buckets of sand or water ready in the event that something lights on fire. Designate someone to be responsible for contacting emergency services. If the display is to be provided by a professional firework display operator make sure that you are clear on who does what especially in the event of an emergency.

Be sure that your council is in compliance with all applicable regulations, including the Fireworks Regulations 2004, the Explosives Regulations 2014, and any subsequent amendments. The laws regulate who can purchase and use fireworks, when they can be purchased, when they may be used and what the maximum noise levels may be. Under these regulations, the industry focus is not only on product safety but also on the reduction of accidents and injuries.

Insure Your Event

Though it is not required by health and safety law, do not forget to confirm that you are properly insured for your event, especially for injuries that may occur as a result of the fireworks. If using an external contractor check that they have the correct and adequate public liability insurance

Regardless of whether you hire a professional firework display operator or release the fireworks yourself, you should also ensure that your current public liability insurance offers protection in the event of injury or damage to a spectator or third party property. If you frequently host fireworks displays, consider purchasing a year-round policy. Keep in mind that most policies will only cover events that comply with firework display regulations. Other covers to consider are event cancellation insurance, weather insurance and special event insurance.

For more information about managing risks at your event, staying in compliance and insuring your firework display, contact BHIB Insurance Brokers today.

Should you wish to share this guidance with colleagues, feel free to download this in PDF form, from the resources section of BHIB Councils Insurance