Monday, 24 October 2016

Fireworks and Displays Safety

Firework displays should be enjoyable and spectacular occasions – but they obviously need some responsible planning. The good news is that there is straightforward guidance to help you.
If you are organising a major public event, you will clearly need a robust and detailed approach to planning as well as professional involvement. If you are holding a local firework display, such as those organised by many sports clubs, schools or parish councils, you still need to plan responsibly, but the same level of detail is not necessary or expected. Below are some tips and guidance to help you.

Before the event:

Think about who will operate the display. 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.

Consider whether the site is suitable and large enough for your display, including a bonfire if you are having one. 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?

Think about what you would do if things go wrong. Make sure there is someone who will be responsible for calling the emergency services

Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier.

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

Ensure you have a suitable place to store the fireworks. Your firework supplier or local authority should be able to advise

If you plan on selling alcohol the bar should be well away from the display site

On the day of the event:

Recheck the site, weather conditions and wind direction

Don't let anyone into the zone where the fireworks will fall – or let anyone other than the display operator or firing team into the firing zone or the safety zone around it

Discourage spectators from bringing drink onto the site

Don't let spectators bring their own fireworks onto the site

If you will also have a bonfire at the display then you should:

  • Check the structure is sound and does not have small children or animals inside it before lighting it
  • Not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
  • Have only one person responsible for lighting the fire. That person, and any helpers, should wear suitable clothing e.g. a substantial outer garment made of wool or other low-flammable material.
  • Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers know what to do in the event of a burn injury or clothing catching fire
  • Never attempt to relight fireworks. Keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off

The morning after:

  • Carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space (eg a boiler)

Additional points to consider if you are organising a major public display

For major displays, particularly those involving category 4 ‘professional’ fireworks or very large number of spectators, a more robust approach is obviously needed.
  • Plan and mark out the areas for spectators, firing fireworks (and a safety zone around it) as well as an area where the fireworks will fall
  • Think about how people will get into and out of the site. Keep pedestrian and vehicle routes apart if possible. Mark exit routes clearly and ensure they are well lit. Ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site
  • Appoint enough stewards/marshals. Make sure they understand what they are to do on the night and what they should do in the event of an emergency
  • Contact the emergency services and local authority. If your site is near an airport you may need to contact them
  • Signpost the first aid facilities


Although it is not required by health and safety law, if you are holding a public firework display, it’s a good idea to have public liability insurance. Bear in mind that not all companies are used to dealing with this type of event, and as with any other type of insurance, it’s worth shopping around: look for a company that’s used to insuring firework and other public events – you are likely to get much better deal and avoid unsuitable terms and conditions. If you have difficulty with the standard insurance terms, TALK to your insurer and find a way forward; they can be very helpful.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Risk in your business

Here we will be looking at the physical risks that need to be accounted for within any business planning, but hopefully will cover the general areas necessary to give you an idea of what to look out for.
Before we move on let’s be clear what we are talking about.
What is Risk?                                           
“Risk is the likelihood of a body or event to cause harm.”
This should not be  confused with Hazard.         

What is Hazard?            
“Hazard is the ability of a body or event to cause harm.”
From this we can see that in order to reduce the risks to our businesses we need to remove, reduce or protect against the hazards we come across. The way we do this is by carrying out a Risk Assessment

There are five steps to carrying out any risk assessment.

Step 1: Identify and record the hazards that are present, these fall broadly into five categories
Physical: such as pressure, heat, damp, noise, radiation and electricity
Chemical: such as dusts, fumes, chemicals, toxic materials and gases
Biological: such as infections, viruses and contagions
Ergonomic: work conditions, stress, RSI and man-machine interaction
The fifth one we'll come back to as it’s covered under specific legislation

Step 2: Identify the people that may be affected by the hazard
Paying particular attention to those groups that may be especially vulnerable such as the elderly, blind, young and disabled.
At this point it is possible to rank the severity of the risk, giving it a more tangible identity

Step 3: Remove, reduce the severity or Protect against, the Hazard.
The preference here is always to remove the hazard completely (rearrange items to avoid trips and impacts), if this cannot be done then reduce the severity of the hazard (use low voltage equipment or less aggressive chemicals) and as a last resort protect against the hazard (provide warnings or personal protective equipment).
Once again assuming that all the measures have been put into place, it will be possible to rank the severity of the residual risks. You can then establish whether the remaining risks are acceptable or if they need further action.

Step 4: Record, Plan, Inform and Train            
Record the significant findings from steps 1 to 3 and what actions have or need to be taken as a result.
Prepare any plans or procedures that may be required in order to facilitate the actions
Inform and instruct all relevant people, co-operate with all concerned.
Provide any necessary training that may be required as a result of the assessment.

Step 5: Review
Having carried out the assessments they must be kept relevant, which means that they should be reviewed on a regular basis or when conditions change (such as work practices, new technology, legislation or results of monitoring)
Remember any revisions to the assessments must be communicated to those that need to know the results of those revisions.
Why have we gone to the trouble of doing these risk assessments and putting whatever precautions in place, is it because of our genuine concern for our fellow workers safety, is it because it makes financial sense to do it or is it our legal duty?

The answer is all of the above!

a.     From a humanitarian and moral point of view, we do not want to cause or allow to be caused, harm to anybody
b.    Research shows that investing in risk reduction leads to better company performance.
c.     A good working environment is good business.
d.    Staff feel that they are valued.
e.    Your customers see a company that does it right and cares.
f.      You avoid costs associated with disruption, sickness, investigation, down time, compensation claims, increased insurance premiums and loss of goodwill
g.    And for those companies that cannot see the benefit, there are legal requirements, with quite hefty penalties for non compliance

Remember under step 1 of the risk assessment I said there was a fifth hazard, which was covered under its own legislation, this is Fire!

Potentially this one can be the most destructive, obviously to your staff, the public and visitors, but also to a business.

If your stock and premises are all destroyed, how are you going to trade?

This is why in March 2006 the “Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005” came into force, making it the responsibility of all owners or occupiers of commercial properties, to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of those premises and put into action any necessary precautions and planning.

For the purpose of the legislation “Commercial” means anything non-domestic, so that includes churches, schools, libraries etc. In fact only military and some government buildings are exempt.

When we carry out our Fire Risk Assessment it’s worth remembering how fire works, for this we use the fire triangle.

 Fire needs 3 elements to exist firstly Fuel (flammable gases, flammable liquids or flammable solids. Secondly Oxygen (The air around us, oxidizing agents and stored oxygen) and finally Ignition (Naked flame, faulty electrical appliances, hot processes and hot machinery)… Remove any one of these and the fire goes out.

We have seen that there are many types of hazards and therefore risks, surrounding our businesses, it is essential then that we Eliminate these risks, if we cannot do this, then we should Reduce the effect of them, and finally Protect against any residual risk.

Remember none of this will work if we do not communicate your findings and plans to those who may be affected.

This way our businesses should be safe environments in which to work, be protected from the disruption and costs that incidents can bring and demonstrate to others that we are responsible and considerate business people.
All of this has to be a cost effective  benefit to all of our businesses, a benefit which you can take to the bank!

If you would like more information, then please contact us at

Monday, 25 April 2016

Statistics show that problems associated with alcohol & drug use is increasing

Many drugs including alcohol can seriously affect your ability to work safely a long time after consumption. 

The immediate effect of drugs can last for anything from 10 minutes to 24 hours. However they can be detected for anything up to 30 days. 

Do not get drunk the night before and expect to work safely the next day. Alcohol takes time to work out of your system (1 pint will take approximately 2 to 3 hours) 

50% of all drivers killed are over the legal limit. Don’t drink and drive 

35% of all fatal accidents are related to alcohol 

You are far more likely to have an accident on site when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People with drink or drug problems are four times more likely to have accidents at work. 

Everyone has a responsibility to act if they become aware that drugs or alcohol are affecting safety at work of themselves or others. If you know somebody is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tell your manager or supervisor.

 There are many over the counter and prescribed medications that can affect your ability to work safely, including cold and allergy medications and many painkillers. If you are taking medication, tell your manager.