Following the M5 incident in 2011 and many meetings with both the Coroner and various Government departments we agreed to highlight some of the potential issues surrounding the generation of firework smoke and fog – particularly in the run up to the November 5th period.
Firstly, however, it is important to appreciate that the Coroner found that firework smoke was not to blame for the tragic accident on the M5 near Taunton, but he did state that it could not be ruled out as a contributory factor.
In conditions of very high humidity it is possible that smoke from any source can trigger and contribute to the production of a dense fog.
This possibility should form part of the overall site and product specific risk assessment at any display but particularly when:-
- The location is near to a river or other source of high humidity (eg dew)
- When certain wind directions could carry smoke towards a road
- There is little wind to disperse fog or smoke
The Coroner recommended that all display sites should have some means of assessing the wind strength and direction and had means to stop the display if smoke became a serious issue. As part of the risk assessment process therefore we recommend that you consider:-
- Whether the site and the display have the potential to impact on local roads should the conditions become foggy
- What cancellation or curtailment criteria are appropriate for the display – and that all parties understand and “sign up” to these
- How the wind strength and direction can be assessed – this could be from local measurements and/or from local sources
- Whether the site merits “spotters” to be able to report back to the firers if smoke becomes an issue
- How the information will be communicated to the firing team
- How the emergency services (usually through the Police) might be alerted and by whom in case smoke and/or fog threatens a nearby road
The UK has an excellent safety record for professionally fired displays, and no-one wants to see displays cancelled or not commissioned because of the M5 accident. The consideration of the effects of firework smoke in a sensible and proportionate risk assessment, taking into consideration all the above factors, is the best way (alongside training) to prevent any similar occurrence in the future.
The BPA firers and senior firers qualifications now include a section on the effects of smoke, and we recommend that your firing teams are brought up to date with this new section before the time of their next renewal of their qualification. A special short presentation is available on the BPA website titled smoke issues click here
The Home Office will be implementing EU regulation 98/2013 on the Marketing and Use of Explosives Precursors on 2 September 2014.
The Control of Explosives Precursors Regulations 2014 restricts the sale of certain chemicals that can be used in the illicit manufacture of explosives precursors to members of the general public unless they hold a licence. Businesses selling restricted chemicals must ensure a warning label is affixed and must verify the buyer has a licence.
The regulation also introduces requirements to report suspicious transactions and significant thefts and disappearances.
More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/licensing-for-home-users-of-explosives-precursors.
OSCT CBRNE unit
The Explosives Industry Group of the CBI represents the majority of the UK industry explosive companies including the UK Ministry of Defence.
EIG acts as a lobby group and information source for members and includes members with interests in:-
- Manufacture, import and export of explosives
- Transport and Storage of explosives
- Explosives for Civil Uses
- Fireworks and Pyrotechnics
The EIG is represented on many Government committees and works with many UK Government Departments including:-
- The Explosive Industry Forum (EIF)
- The Explosive Storage and Transport Committee of the MOD (ESTC)
- The COMAH and Gas Charging Panel
- The British Standards Institute (BSI)
- The Explosive Inspectorate of HSE (HSE XI)
- The Department for Transport (DfT)
- The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
The EIG publishes a number of FREE guides for Industry which are available for members and non-members to download
HSE’s primary concern is that only safe category 4 fireworks, theatrical and pyrotechnic products are placed on the market. HSE Inspectors will take a sensible and proportionate approach to enforcement if they come across these items after 4 July 2013.
The focus of any regulatory activity will be on ensuring these products are safe for supply and use and, in the absence of national standards for these types of pyrotechnic products, HSE will expect the industry to ensure that category 4 fireworks, theatrical and pyrotechnic products comply with the Essential Safety Requirements of the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010.
Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they place safe products on the market and it is essential that they continue to meet these duties.
This is consistent with the approach being taken by BIS and Trading Standards.
Hazardous Installations Directorate
Health and Safety Executive
For further details click here
This consultative document seeks views on HSE’s proposed consolidated version of the following parts of the Approved Code of Practice on the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). L134 – Design of plant, equipment and workplaces; L135 – Storage of dangerous substances; L136 – Control and mitigation measures; L137 – Safe maintenance, repair and cleaning procedures; L138 – Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres.
Click here for more details: