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Fireworks fun – but only in the right hands

Fireworks fun – but only in the right hands

The Department of Labour’s occupational safety and health service is reminding retailers that fireworks must not be sold to anyone under the age of 14.

OSH recently prosecuted two retailers under the Hazardous Substances (Fireworks) Regulations – one for selling fireworks outside the 10-day sales period, and the other for selling ‘roman candle’ fireworks to two 12-year old boys.

Retailer Jifeng Li, of Waiheke Island, was recently fined $5000 and ordered to pay reparation of $10,000 after one of the 12-year olds he sold the fireworks to lost the sight in one eye when one of the roman candles hit him in the face. The retailer knew about the age restriction, but never ascertained how old the boys were before he sold them the fireworks. Jifeng Li told the sentencing judge he accepted that if he hadn’t sold the fireworks, the accident wouldn't have happened, and that he would never sell fireworks again.

Kim Comben, OSH’s senior specialist in hazardous substances, said fireworks may look harmless enough, but they can be dangerous if not handled according to the instructions for use.

“Fireworks used in an irresponsible manner can be very dangerous. Children should be under the guidance of an adult when using fireworks and consideration must be given to animals and adjoining properties.

“The rules are there for a purpose, and that is to make Guy Fawkes safe and enjoyable for everyone.”

Fireworks are classified as explosives, and public sales are subject to strict rules. Fireworks can only be sold between 27 October and 5 November, and only to people over 14. Retailers caught flaunting the restrictions may be liable to a fine up to $500,000 and spend up to three months in jail.

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