Independence Day is just around the corner, which means Americans around the country will be preparing to watch fireworks displays to celebrate. While many enjoy this holiday tradition, some people may not know most fireworks are still manufactured by hand to reduce the risk of factory explosions. This is because automated machinery has the potential to create sparks that would ignite the explosives.
As sales are increasing it is a great time to talk about how fireworks are made and why the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary in facilities.
A brief history of fireworks
First invented in China more than 1,000 years ago, fireworks have come a long way from sparks to large-scale aerial displays. Although China is still the leading producer of fireworks, the U.S. is one of the largest fireworks consumers. Aerial fireworks are typically made in an external shell filled with black powder and connected to a fuse.
People first started experimenting with colored fireworks during the Italian Renaissance. Different chemical compounds, typically metal salts, are responsible for the various colors. Strontium and lithium make red; calcium chloride makes orange; sodium salts produce yellow; barium compounds create green; copper compounds and chloride make blue; mixing strontium and copper makes purple; and aluminum, titanium and magnesium produce silver. Blues may be more difficult to create than other colors.
Appropriate gear for handling fireworks
Some of the metal salts used in fireworks may be carcinogenic to humans. AMMEX N95 Cone Masks reduce the inhalation of the dust from these chemicals when inserting them into the cone that will be lit. Most aerial fireworks are made up of a cardboard cone with an igniter at the base, a fuse and stars, the pellets that add the color. The way the stars are arranged determines the pattern.
Some of these chemical compounds cause chemical burns, which are a serious workplace hazard. Gloves should be worn to minimize skin exposure to dangerous chemicals. Latex and nitrile disposable gloves protect the hands from harmful materials used to create fireworks while providing dexterity that makes it easy to handle smaller parts.
All in all, facilities need to provide the right protective coverings to keep their employees safe. On that note, have a safe Fourth of July!