Victorians are being warned of the dangers of buying and using illegal fireworks this festive season.
It is illegal for anyone apart from licensed pyrotechnicians to be in possession of fireworks or to use them in Victoria.
On Boxing Day, a man was critically injured by a firework in Werribee. Last New Year’s Eve, a man was killed by fireworks at a party in East Gippsland.
Earlier this month, WorkSafe assisted police who seized approximately three tonnes of illegal fireworks from five homes in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs. Three men from Narre Warren, Pakenham and Springvale were charged with possession of explosives and will appear in court next year.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams said revellers who set off fireworks were putting themselves, their families and the public at risk.
“Fireworks are banned from use by the general public because they are dangerous in untrained hands. Illegal fireworks can cause serious injury and death,” Ms Williams said
“The festive season is a time of joy and celebration between family and friends. Not a time to spend in hospital, or mourning a loved one. So don’t risk your safety and that of others for what may seem like a good idea at the time.”
Those caught with illegal fireworks may also face a prison sentence of up to 15 years as well as thousands of dollars in fines.
According to research from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit at Monash University Accident Research Centre, 29 people attended emergency wards in Victoria for fireworks-related injuries in the 2015-2016 financial year.
In the six years to June 2016, 155 people attended Victorian emergency wards with fireworks injuries. Of these, 83% were male and most were aged in their twenties. The most common injuries were burns (43% of patients), eye injuries (20%) and pieces of the firework lodged in the skin (12%).
Ms Williams said illegal fireworks were also posed risks to animals and were a serious fire threat.“Animals can be physically hit by pieces of the fireworks, or traumatised by the lights or sound of the explosions,” she said.
“During summer, the risk of bushfire is particularly high when fireworks are set off. A few minutes of fun is simply not worth the potential destruction that a fire can cause.”
Information about the sale or use of illegal fireworks can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
Anyone in possession of illegal fireworks should contact WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 so they can be collected.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.