By Andrew Sharman
Many of us will have started the new year with a bang. In December 2016 the British Fireworks Association advised that sales of ‘New Year’s Fireworks’ had increased to record levels. A spokesperson from the British Pyrotechnists Association anticipated that New Year’s Eve displays would “reach new heights”. Writing this dispatch from San Francisco I can confirm that Stateside, sunny Californian skies were transformed at night-time into sparkling disco mirror balls with members of both the American Pyrotechnics Association and the National Fireworks Association gleefully suggesting that fireworks “make the new year celebrations magnificent”.
But not so in Rome.
Just before Christmas, Rome’s new mayor Virginia Raggi announced her decision to ban all fireworks in the interests of public safety. Her suggestion of a 500 Euro fine for setting off a firework undeniably went down like a damp squib. Not content with removing the biggest bangs, Raggi went on to outlaw the use of hand-held sparklers too.
History of the great city reveals that sparks have certainly flown, flames flickered, and passions ignited throughout the years. When twin brothers Romulus and Remus, sons of Mars – the god of war, founded the great city in 753BC we can bet there was some form of fireworks. We know that man has always been captivated by the flickering flame. Without question Urbs Aeterna to call her by her old name, (or ‘the Eternal City’ for those not so familiar with the poetry of Tibellus) has always burned brightly. And arguably always should.
Much of our modern legal system, especially that of the UK, originally came from the Roman Empire – so perhaps Raggi is attempting to create a new world order.
Now of course, we know that fireworks are inherently hazardous. In the US last year there were 4 deaths and 9,300 injuries caused by fireworks. 40% of these involved illegal fireworks. In Italy, 2 died and around 350 were injured. Whilst each accident is sad news, to put the numbers in perspective they each represent way less than a tenth of one percent of the population.
The days after the celebrations are not the time to remind us of how to be safe around fireworks (although if you haven’t used up all of your Catherine Wheels yet, please do read the label first). In the US the fireworks industry generates an annual revenue of almost 1.1 billion dollars, whilst back in Rome, the value of fireworks locally is around 3 million Euro.
Mayor Raggi’s radical proposals were eventually overturned and Rome’s skies were ablaze with colour, whizzes, pops and bangs on the 31 December.
Raggi had a landslide victory when she was elected as the city’s first ever female Mayor, but her first attempts at governance could have set her on a slippery slope in this new year ahead.
So as we begin this new year in safety, take a moment to think about your organisation’s safety culture. Do you go for the big bang and seek to eliminate all risks, or are your ‘fireworks’ reserved for special moments and maintained safely until then?
Andrew’s best-selling book From Accidents to Zero: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Workplace Safety Culture is available to SHPonline readers with an exclusive 25% discount. A new book Safety Savvy, co-authored with Dr Tim Marsh, is also available on this special offer. Use the code SHP25 at www.fromaccidentstozero.com to order your copies of both books now.
 An annual average of 2 deaths and 350 injuries in Italy against a population of around 60 million. An annual average of 4 deaths and 9,300 injuries in the USA with a population of 320 million.
According to Barbour, almost a third of workers have been bullied and half of women, and a fifth of men, have been sexually harassed at work. Bullying and harassment is offensive or insulting behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated. It may involve the abuse of power by one person over another, or it can involve groups of people.
This free employee factsheet contains:
- What is bullying and harassment?
- The impact of bullying;
- The role of an employer;
- Advice for combatting bullying;
- Actions to take;
- Sources of help and information.
Categories: Blog, Culture And Behaviours, New Safety and Health, Workplace psychology
You May Also Be Interested In