Fireworks are an indispensable part of celebrations such as Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.
When your charity or community organisation puts on a special event with fireworks, you need to take precautions to reduce the risks and keep your employees, volunteers and spectators injury-free.
You should also ensure that you have adequate Community or Charity Event Insurance, which will include Public Liability Insurance to protect against your legal liabilities should a member of the public suffer injury or damage to their property.
Understanding the Risks
Injuries and accidents mainly occur because many people don’t 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.
Top Tips to Make Sure You’re 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?
- Check the weather. Check reports both before and on the day of the event.
- Contact your local authorities and 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 adequately 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 that 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 if 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 business or organisation is in compliance with all applicable regulations, including the Firework (Safety) Regulations 1997 and the 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’s not required by health and safety law, don’t forget to confirm that you are appropriately insured for your event, especially for injuries that may occur as a result of the fireworks.
Regardless of whether you hire a professional firework display operator or release the fireworks yourself, you should consider public liability insurance, which offers protection in the event of injury or damage to a spectator or third party property.
If you frequently host fireworks displays or other charity or community events, consider purchasing an annual Event 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.
FREE Independent Insurance Review
If you are running or organising an event, it pays to take expert advice or your Charity Event Insurance.
This will ensure that you are fully protected, while only paying for the specific areas of required cover.