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Protections for workers in the fireworks industry

Fireworks warnings issued around summer holidays generally focus on the consumer safety. There are numerous statistics about precautions buyers should take while igniting fireworks.

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance reported more than 11,000 people were hospitalized nationwide in 2013 for fireworks-related injuries, most of which occurred during the weeks just before and after Independence Day. Forty percent of victims were children younger than 15. Forty-one percent of all victims suffered serious second-degree burns.

Burns aren't always the result of direct contact with fireworks. Forty percent of all Fourth of July fires are sparked by fireworks. Nearly 18,000 structural, vehicle and outdoor fires in 2011 were blamed on fireworks, responsible for millions of dollars in property damage and dozens of unnecessary injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported one-third of all fireworks shipments tested did not meet safety standards. If a significant portion of fireworks are dangerous for consumers, imagine how unsafe working in a pyrotechnics company can be.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, companies that manufacture, transport and sell fireworks must follow the same rules to safeguard employees as other businesses.

A pyrotechnics worker died in 2014 and another employee was seriously hurt after an on-the-job accident. The employees were using a forklift to transfer fireworks from one location to another at a storage facility, when gas in the forklift ignited and triggered an explosion. An OSHA investigation uncovered nine job safety violations at the company.

OSHA sets safety standards for every workplace including pyrotechnics companies. Violations of these rules can lead to employer investigations and fines. Injuries and deaths caused by fireworks or other job-site dangers are preventable.

Accountability for work-related injuries and fatal accidents include workers' compensation and other benefits. Under some circumstances, economic recovery is possible through personal injury or wrongful death claims filed with Illinois civil courts. An attorney can help determine what compensation might be available.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "OSHA reminds employers to protect workers from dangers of handling fireworks," June 29, 2015

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