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Firms risking fines over firework fiasco

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Remember, remember, the 5th of November? It could be a date some companies want to forget if they fail to follow legal guidelines for their fireworks display.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, any company holding a non-domestic fireworks display, from a local pub to large hotel, or a corporate event, has a duty of care to both employees and anyone affected by the event.

In addition, the Fireworks Act 2003 received Royal Assent in September this year, enabling the Secretary of State to create new firework regulations. These regulations are expected to provide greater safety measures for the
use of fireworks with regard to safety, noise and damage to property. The Act will also enable the provision of new offences for breaches of the regulations.

Should an incident occur, employers are open to prosecution under health and safety legislation, including up to two years imprisonment if referred to a Higher Court.

    Croner Consulting is urging companies to adhere to the following guidelines when they hold their fireworks display this year.

    If in any doubt about the legislative requirements or ability to set up and operate a display, a professional display organiser and operator should be hired.

    Undertake a risk assessment to identify all risks associated with firework displays and bonfires.

    Inform the local Police, Fire Brigade, Local Enforcing Authority, residents and institutions (i.e. hospitals and care homes) about the display.

    Define and control the display site boundaries (i.e. spectator area, safety area between the spectators and the fireworks, firing area, fallout area for debris from exploded fireworks, bonfire area and exit areas).

    Check the site in daylight to ensure there are no obstructions such as buildings, overhead cables and overhanging trees.

    Provide an adequate number of stewards responsible for crowd safety and provide them with high visibility jackets.

    Provide adequate fire fighting facilities and train stewards in their use.

    Have at least one suitably equipped First Aid point, manned by a fully qualified First Aider.

    Use only fireworks that are classified to British Standard BS7114:1988 and store them in a secure, dry place with no possible sources of ignition.

    Make contingency plans for any possible unplanned events (e.g. ignition of fireworks, disorderly spectator behaviour, or the bonfire getting out of control).

    Prohibit spectators from bringing their own fireworks to the display.

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