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Guy Fawkes Night: Health and Safety Regulations

As a young child I was never allowed to go to firework parties. Instead my mother, as I am sure is the same with many parents, had an innate fear of me being struck by a firework.  You might consider this to be slightly closeted however accidents do happen and since I had one year earlier, almost had a firework explode in my face, I understood the cautious approach that my mother was taking.  Instead I would look out of the bedroom window at the fireworks that were being let off and my childhood was no less enjoyable.The point is that firework parties are an excellent idea.  Children and adults alike gain great enjoyment from attending and wrapping up warm. The thought of munching a toffee apple and maybe a hot chocolate before bed is in my view as excellent a way as is possible to spend an evening. The majority of fireworks are now let off in firework exhibitions.  Local parks tend to put on firework displays for a small fee rather than fireworks being let off in the back garden which can be enjoyable but over in no more than a few moments at great expense.There is of course still a risk.  There has to be in attending any such event.  One would hope that the risk is minimal and overall given the number of people who attend these events every year, if numbers are produced, I am quite sure that the number of injuries is relatively minor. However, given the nature of the risk, the extent of the injuries can be severe.  They involve in very serious burns and in some cases quite severe disfigurement. Those therefore that put on a firework display must be aware of the duty that they have.  They have a common law duty to ensure that the firework display is safely managed.  If an accident was to occur therefore a Judge would look to see that all reasonable steps had been taken to ensure that those attending the firework display are not put at risk. It is imperative therefore that local authorities are conscious of this risk.  That is not to say that they should not provide an enjoyable evening.  As in most things in health and safety issues, it is very much a balance but a sensible balance is what a Judge is looking to see has been taken and one would therefore expect barriers around the fireworks site, to ensure the Local Authority employs competent people to organise and provide the display, to make appropriate enquiries that they hold necessary certificates and licences to be able to do so and to ensure that whilst the barriers are set at a reasonable distance, that they are not so far that the children and adults cannot see and enjoy the display.Therein lies the balance and if this is achieved, people will have an enjoyable and safe evening.  My very best wishes therefore for the 5th November.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker.If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, or email enquiries@rjw.co.uk and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.

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