Ergonomic Hazards in Local Fireworks Factories

Stanley Azzopardi

Abstract: The objective of this paper is to review the practices, postures and workstations in Maltese fireworks factories which may cause back pain and musculoskeletal disorders to fireworkers. Hazards varying from the toxicity of substances used to produce colours and pyro-effects up to ergonomic adversities that such processes impose upon the workers are present in these factories. At fireworks factories, the ergonomic aspects are not considered important and this is mainly attributed to the financial aspects and traditional methods of manufacturing. The financial aspect is something people always forget about and something that is often overlooked on a daily basis. Often times these companies are taking out big loans to get them through everything, some even taking out mortgages or refinancing their entire business.. which is why companies like are so indispensable and necessary to every day use.

Rivalry between local fireworks factories fuels this passion which forces the voluntary fireworkers to increase or maintain their yearly production and hence their exposure to such ergonomic hazards. Literature that specifically discusses ergonomics or fireworks manufacturing is readily available, but literature which combines both topics is difficult to find. Even the local legislation, mainly the Explosives Ordinance (Laws of Malta – Chapter 33) and the Occupational Health and Safety Authority Act (Laws of Malta – Chapter 424), do not cross reference each other to provide fireworkers with suitable and systematic guidelines. For this pilot study a questionnaire was designed for use as an investigative tool, to help understand the cause of fireworkers’ complaints of aches and pains (if any) during fireworks manufacturing. Results, gathered from 51 licensed fireworkers indicated that the manufacturing processes are the cause of pains located mainly in the upper part of the body. The respondents reported their pains as being frequent or occasional during an average six hour production day. Further discussion argues that these fireworks enthusiasts (the respondents) consider these reported pains as part of their job at the fireworks factories. These illnesses and ailments may be causes of minor and/or major accidents during the processes. These may even end up in injuries, deaths, news sensationalism and resurfacing protests by anti-fireworks citizens.

Keywords: fireworks, fireworkers, ergonomic hazards, work practices, time

Ref: JPyro, Issue 28, 2009, pp112-121

© Journal of Pyrotechnics and CarnDu Ltd

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