Without question, fireworks are synonymous with the Fourth of July. From public displays to backyard barbecues, the bombs bursting in air own the skies and our hearts as we celebrate the independence of our nation. However, smiles and laughter can quickly turn to sorrow and serious injuries if safety is not included as part of the holiday preparations.
Although the National Safety Council and many other organizations strongly advise that fireworks only be enjoyed during public displays conducted by skilled professionals, bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers and other fireworks can be legally purchased by individuals in many states. Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. Specifically, the US Consumer Products Safety Commission reports approximately 230 people go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. The most injured body parts include hands and fingers (36%), followed by eyes (19%), and head/face/ears (19%), with more than 50% of injuries being burns.
Obviously, firework accidents involving employees or their families can result in absenteeism, thereby decreasing productivity in the workplace. Furthermore, the overall stress and anxiety that is commonly associated with any accident can negatively impact a department or an entire company.
The upcoming July 4th holiday is the perfect opportunity to highlight how your company’s workplace accident prevention and job safety programs are directly transferable off-the-job. It’s simple and important to do! Stimulate employee engagement by offering safety tips and ideas on company bulletin boards, social media channels, and digital signage.
A sampling of content to fuel your postings is provided below. These recommendations can be easily communicated and are relevant to any workforce, large or small.
- YouTube Tutorials: Online learning has become a standard part of many companies’ safety training programs. Why not do the same at home? Make it informal and fun! Microwave some popcorn or throw some hotdogs on the grill. Consider it a preemptive strike to get in the holiday spirit while the whole family views a few, brief fireworks safety tutorials.
- Family Fireworks SOP: Gently encourage employees to develop a family-friendly version of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for storing, distributing, igniting and handling fireworks prior to purchase. When you stop and think about it, a company’s SOP is really not different than establishing ground rules for family chores or for the proper storage of household cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, and other toxic chemicals.
As part of your family’s Fireworks SOP (FSOP), the American Red Cross offers the following five safety steps.
1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
The FSOP should also include that fireworks be stored in a secure area, out of the reach of children and pets.
- Wear Gloves: Most manufacturing areas require that workers wear gloves to protect against injuries due to hazardous materials, hot or sharp objects, as well as other environmental and health concerns. If not handled with care, fireworks are equally or more dangerous. Therefore, both children and adults should wear gloves when waving sparklers, as well as handling more potent pyrotechnics.
- Spark a Conversation: Hold a family meeting just prior to the celebration. Encourage questions while making sure the kids understand the FSOP before hitting the road or the neighborhood celebration.
- Recognition: Just like employee recognition, the youngsters (and more than a few baby boomers!) love being rewarded for good behavior. There’s nothing like a hot fudge sundae or another guilty pleasure to celebrate safety excellence!
Fireworks safety can also be promoted as part of the CEO’s holiday message. For companies with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), July 4th offers a timely opportunity for the human resources department to remind employees of free benefits at their disposal.
Whatever tactics are selected, workplace communication that expresses concern for employees’ personal health and wellbeing is simply good business and the right thing to do.
Read More: The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers a comprehensive list of safety tips for the entire family, including man’s best friend.
And from all your friends at Launch Communications, please don't forget to Stay Safe and HAVE A BLAST!