Minimum safety clearance distance and exclusion zones for display fireworks

The purpose of this Safety Alert is to remind firework display operators and event organisers that display sites must have sufficient open space to meet minimum safety clearance distances, and adequate security measures for crowd control must remain in place throughout the display.


A pyrotechnician was conducting a display using various types of fireworks, including aerial shells. During the display an electronically fired aerial shell failed to fully launch from the mortar tube and exploded, causing another mortar tube to fall over and fire another aerial shell at an angle.

Three spectators received minor burns which were treated on site and a pyrotechnician assistant who was also injured received treatment before attending the Royal Darwin Hospital as a precaution.

Contributing factors

  • Minimum safety clearance distance, set between the fireworks and viewing audience did not take into account the potential for fireworks malfunction.
  • Inadequate measures, including trained people with security duties and barriers to prevent spectators from entering the exclusion zone.

Action required

  • Ensure minimum safety clearance distances for display fireworks are in place. Fireworks and mortars must be positioned so that any fireworks effects and hazardous debris, including dud shells, fall within the exclusion zone.
  • If the spectator crowd enters the exclusion zone during the fireworks display through ineffective security or barriers in controlling the crowd, the fireworks operator must stop the display. The display may resume only when the fireworks operator is satisfied that the exclusion zone will not be entered and the spectator crowd is under control.
  • If, during the fireworks display, malfunctioning fireworks cause, or are suspected to cause, harm to people or damage to property (including fireworks in the display), the fireworks operator must stop the display. The fireworks display may only resume when the fireworks operator has confirmed that it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Further information

Code of Practice

Other guidance material


This Safety Alert contains safety information following inquires made by NT WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of NT WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. NT WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up-to-date and does not accept any liability for the information in this report or as to its use.