LLB student at Bucks New University
It is November, the month in which many of us will attend a fireworks display, be it to celebrate Diwali or Bonfire night. Whether you take part in an organised event or simply let off a few fireworks in your garden, the safety of everyone at the event will be of paramount importance. We all remember the adverts shown annually on television during the first week of November, warning us of the dangers of returning to check a firework. However, have you ever given much thought to what fireworks are made of? Have you read what was written on the side of the fireworks or on their box? Were the instructions even in a language that you could understand? Often in a moment of excitement these things can be overlooked. This article concerns the law surrounding the manufacturing of fireworks in Europe.
The manufacturing and use of fireworks in the UK is primarily governed by the Fireworks Regulations 2004 (under powers delegated from the Fireworks Act 2003), the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010, and the British Standards BS 7114 and BSEN 14035. However, on 22nd May 2013 the European Commission proposed the Pyrotechnic Directive 2013/29/EU that was adopted on the 12th June 2013. All the Member States have to transpose the Directive by 30th June 2015 and apply it from 1st July 2015.
Amongst other things, a number of measures are now in place to protect consumers who buy fireworks. Articles 8-15 of the Directive contain obligations to manufacturers, distributors and importers of pyrotechnic products in the European Union. Some of these obligations include the following:
- Fireworks must carry a CE marking (Articles 19-20 of the Directive).
- Manufacturers must keep all related documentation for ten years to ensure that the composition details of the fireworks are available on request.
- The writing and instructions must be in the language of the Member State in which it is being sold and used.
Fireworks will be categorised according to the risk of injury associated with the particular firework; there will be four classifications as detailed in Article 6(1)(a) of the Directive. Indoor fireworks used in theatres will have their own classifications, as per Article 6 (1)(b)(i)(ii). The purchase age will differ according to which category the purchased firework falls into (see Article 7(1)(a)). The operator’s skill levels will be taken into account: an adult with specialist knowledge of fireworks will be able to buy and use fireworks from the highest, F4 category. Article 7(2) informs us that under certain circumstances Member States are at liberty to raise the firework-purchasing age limit on grounds of public order, security or health and safety. Member States may also lower the age limits for people who have been trained to handle fireworks or those who are completing their pyrotechnic training. Member States need to let the Commission know what procedures they have in place to identify and authorise persons with specialist knowledge.
When the autumn sky is illuminated with fireworks that have hopefully been CE marked, remember (remember) to buy pyrotechnic products that adhere to safety guidelines and ensure that your friends, family and pets are safe.
Given that firework manufacturers, distributors and importers begin observing the Directive from today, we can all enjoy the safer big bangs much earlier than July 2015.
This article has been reposted from the Bucks New University Law Blog