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Construction Health and Safety


Section 8C

8C - 1

Introduction 8C–3
Preliminary survey 8C–3
Notifications 8C–3
Documentation 8C–3
Storage 8C–4
Transport 8C–4
Mixing on site 8C–5
Use of explosives 8C–5
Code of signals 8C–5
Shot firing 8C–5
Competence of shot firers 8C–5
General precautions 8C–5
Electrical shot firing 8C–6
Detonating cord 8C–6
Shot firing using safety fuse 8C–6
Tunnelling and shaft sinking 8C–7
Scaling down faces 8C–7
Misfires 8C–7
Electrical shot firing misfires 8C–7
Safety fuse misfires 8C–7
Records 8C–8
Disposal of explosives 8C–8
References 8C–9

8C - 2 December 2010
Introduction 6164 and 6187 respectively.
This subsection aims to give general guidance to Site Special attention should be given to the character and
Managers on the acquisition, keeping, transfer, storage, structure of the geographical strata to ensure that they are
transportation and use of explosives in the construction not likely to transmit ground vibration to areas where it is
industry. In addition, it is anticipated that the information will likely to cause damage. The affect on utilities, including
enable Sub Contractor’s method statements and risk underground and over ground services, should be carefully
assessments to be assessed. Further guidance on the use of considered. The survey must include the taking of
explosives is given in BS 5607:1998 "Code of Practice for photographs particularly where there is already evidence of
safe use of explosives in the construction industry", Section movement or damage.
8A of this manual entitled Demolition and section 15 entitled
Quarries associated with construction operations. Advice on Notifications
the explosives used in cartridge operated fixing tools is Certain local authorities have special powers of control
given in BS 4078 Part 1 (also see Section 13 of this manual over the use of explosives, granted under Acts of Parliament.
– Portable Tools). A check should be made to establish whether such powers
The legal framework underpinning this section is The exist in areas where explosives are to be used.
Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 Prior notice of the intention to use explosives should be
and The Control of Explosives Regulations 1991. given to all those who may be affected. For example, the
Explosives are used extensively in the quarrying industry water; gas, electricity and telephone authorities, the
and this section also draws on the Health and Safety highways authority, Network Rail, the police, fire and rescue
Commission’s Approved Code of Practice and Guidance, in service and airports, local residents (consultation only).
this respect. Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (see Section 34 –
Environment), local authorities, are given the power to
Appointments protect the community at large against noise which amounts
Before any work involving explosives is planned and to a nuisance. Local authorities may specify their own
carried out the person responsible for the site, for example requirements for limiting noise, but contractors are given the
the Principal Contractor, must appoint someone with right to apply to local authorities for consent to carry out
sufficient knowledge and experience to oversee this work. work by a particular method, saying what steps they
Even when a sub contractor will carry out the blasting the propose taking to minimise noise. Complaints are likely to
Supervisor appointed by the principal contractor must satisfy occur were the noise created by blasting operations is more
himself or herself that the planning, documents and than 10dBA greater than the background noise and
implementation are satisfactory as this is obviously a high- therefore knowing what the background noise level is at the
risk operation. Similarly, the business actually carrying out receptors from which complaints are likely to arise is
the work with explosives must ensure that Supervisors and important. Having this information will also inform
Shot firers are competent to carry out their work. The discussions with the Local Authority’s Environmental Health
competence and training of Shot firers is dealt with later in personnel. BS 4142: 1997 entitled, “Rating industrial noise
the section. The training of both engineers and shot-firers affecting mixed residential and industrial areas” provides
involved in this work is detailed in the Code of Practice for advice on the process.
the Safe Use of Explosives in the Construction Industry. It is
appropriate that engineers, directly connected with the work Documentation
with explosives, have at least the same training as shot-firers. Under the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991
(COER) as amended by the Manufacture and Storage of
Risk Assessment Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER) explosives may be
The Management of Health and Safety at Work acquired, or stored only by persons who hold a valid
Regulations 1999 requires that every Employer carries out a Explosives Certificate issued by the police. This is usually
risk assessment of the work under his direct control. Where referred to as the "acquire and keep" certificate. An
more than five persons are employed by the business the Explosives Certificate may be issued for both acquisition and
assessment must be written down. The risk assessment is storage of explosives or for acquisition only. Certificates
basically a planning process to ensure the safety of permitting acquisitions only should be obtained where it is
employees and other persons who could be affected by the intended to use explosives on the day they are delivered to
works. The assessment must be suitable and sufficient and it site. An Explosive Certificate is not required for the
is vital that it is completed by persons who really have acquisition or storage of cartridge operated tool cartridges
adequate knowledge and experience to properly which carry the following UN numbers: 0275, 0276, 0323
understand and plan the work. The main risks associated or 0381.
with the use of explosives are an unplanned fire and In addition to the explosives certificate the person
explosion, release of toxic fumes and flying particles. ordering or taking delivery of explosives must have a
COSHH and manual handling concerns are lesser risks "recipient competent authority" which can be obtained from
which need to also be considered. These and the hazards the Explosives Section of the Health and Safety Executive, Tel
and precautions associated with the work process will all 0151 951 4025. Applying for one of these documents
form elements of the written assessment. Therefore, storage, involves the production of the Police explosives acquire and
transport, mixing of explosives, maintenance of machinery, keep certificate, first time applicants should include a
guarding, etc must all be included along with covering letter explaining the situation as this speeds up the
“environmental issues such as vibration, noise, etc. administrative process. Renewals will require the production
of the old "RCA". Communication can be by post or fax, the
Preliminary survey Explosive Policy Section’s fax number is 0151 951 3891.
Before any work involving the use of explosives is started, The requirement to obtain a RCA comes from the “Placing on
a detailed survey should be made of the site and its the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives
adjoining areas. BS 5930:1999 entitled;” Code of Practice Regulations 1993” (POMSTER).
for Site Investigations” gives guidance on this matter. Where NB Explosives cannot be purchased without this
earthworks, tunnelling or demolition are involved, relevant documentation.
information may be obtained from British Standards 6031, Application for licences (over 30Kg) and registration (for

December 2010 8C - 3
30Kg or less) are made to the relevant licensing authority, in No person may transfer explosives to another person unless
broad terms these are: he is satisfied that the transferee has an Explosive Certificate
1. HSE for the manufacture and/or storage of more than certifying him to be a fit person to acquire explosives. This
two tonnes or for the storage of less than two tonnes does not prohibit employers from giving explosives to their
where prescribed separation distances cannot be met. employees, but it does mean that a Principal Contractor must
2. The Police for storage up to two tonnes where any of the check that a Sub-contractor has an Explosives Certificate
explosives to be stored require an Explosives Certificate before providing the Sub-contractor with explosives.
(mainly blasting explosives and gunpowder). Explosives stores must be kept clean and free from grit.
3. The local authority for storage of up to two tonnes of Rubber Overshoes must be kept in each store and worn by
other explosives (primarily fireworks). people who are not wearing rubber soled footwear and
Note: The local authority, in certain areas will be the Fire have to enter the store. No iron or steel implements should
and Rescue Authority while in others it will be the be taken into explosives stores and no naked lights or other
County Council, District Council or London Borough. In means of ignition should be taken within 25m of them.
Scotland and Wales the local authority is the Unitary The issuing of explosives should be restricted to persons
Authority. who have been authorised in writing by the Site Manager.
Section 23 of the Explosives Act 1875 requires that
Storage anyone storing explosives takes all reasonable precautions
The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations to prevent unauthorised access to the explosives. The local
2005 require the following: police should be contacted on the security aspects of storing
Anyone manufacturing or storing explosives must take explosives on site. It naturally follows that the loss or theft of
appropriate measures to prevent fire or explosion; to limit explosives must be reported immediately to the police.
the extent of any fire or explosion should one occur; and
protect persons in the event of a fire or explosion. Transport
A separation distance must be maintained between the The transport of explosives on public roads is subject to
explosives building and neighbouring inhabited buildings to the Carriage of Explosives by Road Regulations 1996,
ensure that risks to those living or working in the area are which place various duties on operators of vehicles
kept to an acceptable level. Schedule 2 of MSER gives including:
separation distances depending upon the type of explosive, 1. the requirement for vehicles to be suitable, having
density of building, and the type of construction of the store. regard to the type of explosives (as defined in the
With certain exceptions a license is required for the Classification and Labelling of Explosives Regulations
storage of explosives. In most cases “stores” holding less 1983) and quantity of explosives carried; quantity limits
than two tonnes of explosives are either licensed or for various types of explosives are also imposed,
registered by the local authority or police. HSE license the 2. restrictions on the carriage of loads of mixed
larger stores and any manufacturing facility. explosives,
HSE may not grant a license for manufacturing of 3. the requirement for the marking of vehicles and
explosives until the local authority has given its assent; this containers, except where small quantities of certain
normally follows a public hearing. types of explosives are carried,
There are explicit exemptions from licensing and 4. the requirement for written, specified information about
registration for temporary storage of up to 7Kg of explosives the load to be kept on the vehicle,
for 24 hours maximum but the persons involved will still be 5. the requirement to take all reasonable steps to ensure
required to comply with the regulations for prevention of fire safe and secure carriage,
and explosion, communication of fire/explosion and to Detailed guidance on quantities of explosives which may
protect people from the effects of fire or explosion. be carried, the construction of vehicles and containers and
Guidance on the construction of storage facilities and the documents involved is contained in HSE booklets L91
relevant safety matters are available from the licensing and L92 (see References).
authority; this includes the police, the local authority or, Subject to exclusions for certain groups and quantities of
where a significant amount of explosives are stored,, the explosives, the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road
Health and Safety Executive (Inspectorate of Explosives) See (Driver Training) Regulations 1996 apply (see p1-42).
the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance LI 39 entitled, Vehicle operators must ensure that drivers have received
“Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005”. adequate instruction and training on dangers which may
Advice may also be obtained from the manufacturer of the arise, action to be taken in an emergency and on their duties
explosives which are to be used. The storage facilities will be under HASAWA and the Carriage of Explosives by Road
inspected and therefore it is important that the guidance and Regulations. Drivers must attend an approved course, on
advice is complied with. successful completion of which they will be awarded a
Where it is not possible to achieve safe separation Vocational Training Certificate. Drivers must carry these
distances, for example because of the tight confines of the certificates.
site and the location of the proposed store with adjoining Finally, the Transport of Dangerous Goods (Safety
occupied structures explosives may have to be delivered and Advisers) Regulations 1999 apply where explosives are
used on the same day and in this way storage will be carried on the public roadway. These regulations, which
avoided. require the safe system of transport to be prepared by a
Finally, it is worth noting that where a site has more than person with training and knowledge of the health and safety
one store it is the total amount stored on site that will be implications of carrying explosives, will normally bear down
assessed for licensing and not the maximum amount stored on the supplier who should be organised so that he delivers
in any one store. directly to the explosive store on the day when blasting is
The movement of explosives into and out of the store must taking place.
be recorded, and there must be a formal procedure for Further transport of explosives on site must be in a vehicle
accepting delivery of explosives and for checking that they provided solely for this purpose and be under the control of
conform to the contents of the advice note. It is essential to the shot firer. The vehicle should be clean internally and
ensure that detonators are stored separately from other carry a red flag to indicate the presence of explosives.
explosives. Full details of the information to be recorded by Detonators should be separated from explosives by at least
people who acquire or store explosives is contained in 1m during carriage; explosives which have already been
Schedule 3 to the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991. fitted with detonators must not be carried in any vehicle.

8C - 4 December 2010
Detonators should be kept in a suitable container, with no General precautions
metal parts that will come into contact with the detonators; it Before explosives are used on any particular site, a
should be kept locked until access is required. Explosives written system of work, applicable specifically to that site,
should be protected from the weather during transit. "No should be prepared. The responsibilities of persons with
Smoking" restrictions and a ban on the use of CB radios and specific duties, such as Explosives Engineers, Supervisors,
mobile telephones in the immediate vicinity must be strictly Shot firer and Sentries should be detailed in writing. The
observed. British Standard (BS 5607) is very useful as it provides
When explosives are being transported on site, only detailed guidance in relation to general explosive matters
sufficient explosives for the work in hand should be drawn and specifically works involving tunnelling, shaft sinking,
from the explosives store, and the vehicle carrying the demolition, underwater blasting and land excavation. When
explosives should go directly to the shot holes. the system of work is being prepared, consideration should
When explosives are brought onto a site where there is be given to the following matters:
no lawful storage facility, (as outlined under 1. The development of the Blasting Specification, Appendix
"Documentation"), liaison may be necessary between the 2 of the Quarries Regulations (revised) and their
supplier making the delivery and site management on such Approved Code of Practice may be used as a source of
matters as emergency arrangements and the provision of guidance in this respect. (These requirements must be
safe parking away from obvious sources of ignition and strictly followed in a quarry). Specific details of the
other dangerous goods. quarries requirements can be found in section 15 of this
Guidance on safe transport of explosives on site is manual. BS 5607 deals with this matter in section 4.7
contained in sections 4.2.10 and 4.2.12 of BS 5607, under the heading "Method Statement" where it refers to
“Code of practice for the safe use of explosives in the the charging plan.
construction industry”. In practice this means that the “explosives engineer” or
other competent person will produce a blast design taking
Mixing on site into consideration the risks identified in the site survey, the
Before explosives mixtures are manufactured on site an geology of the material to be blasted, the exclusion zone
application for an exemption from the Ammonium Nitrate to be achieved and any blast protection required.
Materials (High Nitrogen Content) Safety Regulations 2003 The design will also set out the number of shot holes,
is required. This can be obtained from the Health and Safety position, depth and diameter, type and weights of
Executive Tel 020 7717 6205, the exemption relates to the explosives, the charge and stemming. Time delays
detonation resistance requirement. In addition, a small (detonators) and sequencing will also be described. The
amount of record keeping is required. blast design will inform the blast charge schedule.
The actual mixing process itself is very simple although It may be appropriate to carry out a trial blast to confirm
the manufacturers advice should be sought as to the how the target responds to the blasting regime being
provision and use of suitable equipment and the appropriate considered.
mixing ratios. Some further guidance on this subject can be 2. The preparation of Explosives Rules, based on the safe
found in BS 5607:1998. system of work, written in a manner that can be easily
understood by the workforce. Matters that could be
Use of explosives included in the rules are contained in the Quarries
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations Regulations 1999 (revised), Approved Code of Practice;
2007 - Part 4, Regulation 30 requires that "suitable and (these requirements must be strictly followed in a quarry)
sufficient" steps be taken to ensure that nobody is exposed to they can be found on page 15 of this manual. The rules
risk of injury from the use of explosives in construction work, and system of work must include:
including flying material. - The Shot Firer should make sure that the drilled hole
In addition, persons undertaking the drilling of shot holes pattern and the charging and stemming conforms to the
must be protected from the dangers associated with work at blasting plan.
edges from which there is a risk of falling, dust from the - The banning of cigarettes, matches and naked lights
drilling process, unguarded dangerous parts of machinery within a radius of 10m from explosives and detonators.
and the rupture of large diameter compressed air hoses. This is a legal requirement in quarries.
These are normally chained at the coupling to prevent them - The prohibition of drilling into old sockets, as these
snaking about in the event of a burst. may contain explosives or detonators, which may be
detonated by a drill.
Code of signals - The use of only wooden rods for charging and
Before any blasting takes place, both audible and visual stemming shot holes.
signalling systems, giving warning of blasting operations, - Shot holes should be minimum of 3mm larger than the
should be established. These must be explained and cartridge diameter for normal holes and 13mm for deep
publicised through the site Induction Training, Site Rules and holes. Before charging, shot holes should be proved clear
clearly visible Signs affixed at the entrances to the site. by inserting a stemming rod to the bottom.
Audible warnings should consist of a series of readily - Cartridges should be inserted into the holes one at a
recognisable signals, which have a distinctive sound. Visual time, and stemming should be completed only with
signs should take the form of clearly painted notices posted suitable material, e.g. sand, clay, gypsum, etc.
on all access roads and sited outside the danger area. - As high explosives are initiated by the application of
Sentries should be posted with clear instructions as to when a powerful localised shock, exposure to any deliberate,
they can stop access to the site and when they can allow accidental or random compressive action must be
access. prevented.
- The shot firing circuit must be tested (electrical
Shot firing initiation only)
Competence of shot firers - The establishment of a suitable exclusion zone
Both BS 5607:1998 and the Quarries Regulations 1999 - The posting and duties of sentries
(revised), Approved Code of Practice set out the training - The provision and maintenance of warning signs;
requirements for Shot Firers; these must be adhered to if where these are pictorial signs they must comply with the
safety is to be achieved. Health and Safety (Safety Signs and signals) Regulations

December 2010 8C - 5
- The need to have an audible means of giving warning adequate investigations should be made and suitable
that a shot is about to be fired and to sound the all clear. precautions taken. Commercial radio transmitters may be
These signals must be simple and well publicised. potentially dangerous as the wavelengths used are often
- The shot firer must also satisfy himself that the danger similar to the overall length of the proposed blasting circuit.
zone is clear before firing a round and that, after firing, a Television transmitters are not generally a hazard as they
complete check is made to ensure that no misfires or other transmit horizontal beams from a high mast, but portable
hazards exist before the all clear is sounded. walkie-talkie equipment and unmodified car transmitters up
- Rules for dealing with miss-fires to 5W in output should not be taken within 10m of any
- The procedure for notifying the HSE in the event of blasting operation. Modified car transmitters and CB radio
material being projected beyond the boundary of the transmitters, which may have been illegally modified to
site. This is a dangerous occurrence under RIDDOR increase their power, are potentially dangerous at much
- A procedure for the disposal of unwanted explosives larger distances. Users of electric detonators are
-. The need to notify the police, the general public, or recommended to discuss this matter with the manufacturer or
occupiers of adjacent properties of shot firing times. supplier of their detonators. In any event, the use of CB
radios on sites should be banned by notices placed at all
Electrical shot firing entry points.
Electrical detonation allows shot firing from a remote All legally operating transmitters are licensed by HM
location and also controls the precise instant of firing, thus Government, e.g. Home Office, who will advise on
increasing the safety factor. In addition, the use of timing transmitters in any area. Information is also available from
delay detonators in the firing circuit significantly reduces the broadcasting authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority and
levels of vibration. The method is generally used as a British Telecom. The Ministry of Defence may advise on
number of shot holes can be connected together and fired as military installations.
a group. Electrical means of detonation must not be used during
The making up of primed charges should normally be storm conditions when there is thunder and lightning in the
undertaken by the shot firer immediately prior to charging. A vicinity. The possibility of uncontrolled detonation should not
non-ferrous pricker must be used for piercing the explosive, necessarily prevent the use of this type of firing method.
making it ready to receive the detonator. On no account However, the manufacture/supplier must be consulted to
must any other form of pricker be used. Detonators must be ensure that the firing initiation system is appropriate for the
firmly secured to the primer cartridge in such a manner as to circumstances.
prevent the detonator or wire becoming detached or
damaged. The ends of the detonator leads must remain Detonating cord
twisted together until all holes have been charged. Detonating cord is a very reliable initiator and its use for
Where it is not possible to achieve safe conditions at the firing large groups of charges is free from some of the
charging place (e.g. in very wet conditions), it will be drawbacks of electrical shot firing such as current leakage
necessary for priming explosives to be transported to the problems. However, detonating cord must be protected from
charging place. Such procedures will require additional rain and ground water as moisture penetration can cause
careful planning. transmission failures. Covering the ends of the cord with
All rock surfaces, rails, metal objects, cables etc. must be waterproof tape may prove effective, but if conditions are
considered as potential sources of stray current and great very wet, the use of sealing compounds may be necessary.
care must be taken to prevent detonator lead wires coming When laying out detonating cord, it is essential to ensure
into contact with them. that branch lines do not cross over the main line, as on
Good connection of the detonator leads, connecting wire detonation a branch line may be severed, resulting in a
and shot firing cables is essential. Before attempting to fire a misfire in the shot hole which it is serving. Detonating cord
shot electrically, the shot firer must test the continuity of the must not be kinked or knotted, otherwise transmission failure
circuit with a suitable, calibrated instrument before he may occur. In use, detonating cord passes down the outside
connects the firing cable to the exploder. This testing of explosive cartridges to the bottom of the shot hole, so care
procedure must be carried out only after all persons have left should be exercised when using a stemming rod otherwise
the shot firing area and the shot firer himself is in the firing the cord may be broken or damaged. Breakage of cord can
position. The removable handle of the exploder must be kept also result from excessive tensioning, repeated stretching or
in the shot firer’s possession at all times. The handle may the imposition of a sustained load. The power core of
be inserted into the exploder immediately prior to detonating fuse is liable to detonate, with the risk of serious
firing only and it must be withdrawn immediately injury if subjected to impact or shock. Detonating cord
after firing. should always be protected from friction and heat.
After the shot has been fired, the appointed shot firer must
inspect the area of the blast for misfires, or any other sort of Shot firing using safety fuse
danger, before allowing people to return to the area. In surface blasting applications, the use of safety fuse is
When detonating near overhead electrical cables, virtually restricted to single shot-firing operations such as the
consultation should take place with the electricity supplier, "popping" of large boulders. This is because accurate timing
who may be able to make the cables dead for a limited cannot be achieved and, if used in a group, an erratic
period. Advice should be sought on the minimum distance timing sequence would result. However, safety fuse may be
permissible between an explosive charge and an overhead used where it is considered dangerous to use electrical
electric cable. The following distances may be used for detonation due to the presence of nearby electrical hazards.
guidance: Safety fuse is used in conjunction with a plain detonator.
11-70kV 20m The fuse is inserted into the open end of the detonator, which
132-400kV 61m is secured by crimping on to the fuse. The correct crimping
Premature ignition of electric detonators by tool must be used. A primed charge is made up by inserting
electromagnetic energy from radar, radio and television the detonator into a hole prepared in the primer cartridge.
transmitters is a possibility which should always be The length of safety fuse must allow the shot firer and
considered and this is why CB radios and mobile telephones assistants ample time to walk to a place of safety after
should be excluded from the shot-firing area. ignition. No single shots should be fired by fuse less than 1m
Beamed transmitters, such as navigational aids and in length, nor any shot in a round be fired by fuse less than
military installations often operate at a high power and, if 1.25m in length. A shot firer must not attempt to ignite more
the station is in direct line of sight of blasting operations,

8C - 6 December 2010
than six individual shots in a round. Only fuse lighters, tube detector or some other suitable testing device to
specifically designed for the purpose, should be used. establish the timescale at which fume dilution is such that it is
safe for the workforce to return to the face. This testing must
Tunnelling and shaft sinking be repeating as the work progresses and written records
The following additional precautions are relevant to kept to ensure that the re-entry timescales are appropriate.
tunnelling and shaft sinking: Miners are likely to be working on a bonus system and
therefore re-entry may require a strong level of control!
Where it is necessary to store explosives in the tunnel Scaling Down Faces
between blasting operations, proper reserve stations should All shot-firing operations are likely to leave fragments of
be excavated and fitted with steel doors. Reserve stations loose material on the face. These can fall and have been
should not be nearer than 300m to the tunnel face. Reserve known to cause injury and in some cases, where inclined,
stations are not authorised storage places. Any explosives sloping rock beds in tunnelling are concerned, death. These
remaining in them at the end of a shift should be returned to must therefore be removed or stabilised before any work
the licensed explosives store or magazine. involving an approach to the face, where there is a risk from
falling material, can begin. A cherry picker will provide a
Transport useful platform for scaling down and the Shot firer should not
Explosives should be transported to the tunnel face in a allow anyone to approach a face until he is satisfied that the
clearly marked special mine car, lined with timber and face has been inspected and loose material cleared.
having top or side lids fitted with padlocks. Explosives must
not be carried on the driving locomotive itself. Misfires
Electrical shot firing misfires
Drilling and charging If an electrically initiated charge fails to fire, the shot firer
Drilling patterns should adhere to the agreed profile. All must follow the following procedure: -
shot holes should terminate at the same vertical plane, 1. Remove the handle from the shot firing apparatus and
except those drilled for cut shots and easers. If the presence keep it on his person.
of gas is suspected, tests should be made at the mouth of 2. Disconnect the cable from the shot firing apparatus.
each shot hole, and within 9m of the face prior to charging. 3. After waiting 5 minutes, examine and re-test the shot
Plastic water stemming, water stemming under pressure, or firing cable and connections for any defect. If one is
water gel capsules reduce dust and toxic fumes. If possible, found, it must be remedied.
explosives with non-toxic characteristics should be used in 4. Return to the firing point and make a further attempt to
tunnelling operations. fire the shot.
No explosives or blasting accessories should be 5. If this second attempt to fire is unsuccessful, the circuit
conveyed to the face until all drilling operations for the round should be split in half and each half should be tested in
to be charged have been completed. turn to locate the fault.
6 Advise his superviser of the situation.
Sockets left after blasting 7. The faulty half should then be split in two and again each
The most common cause of severe accidents with half should be tested separately by continuing this
explosives in tunnelling results from drilling into sockets process, the fault can be located. All such tests must be
containing explosives which were not fired in the previous affected from the firing shelter.
round. It is essential that drilling into such sockets be avoided 8. Once the faulty detonator has been located, the
and this is why the careful inspection of the face after a blast remainder of the circuit should be connected in series,
is important. omitting the faulty detonator. The leading wires of the
faulty detonator should be connected by string to a
Electrical faults and hazards suitable marker to facilitate recovery of the primer
Short-circuiting or current leakage from the circuit to earth cartridge after firing.
is more likely to occur when conditions are wet. Ground 9. After re-testing, the modified circuit should be fired.
water from rock fissures often contains mineral salts, which Dislodged material should then be searched for any
greatly increase its electrical conductivity. Bare wire undetonated cartridges. Recovered explosive material
connections should not be allowed to dangle in water, nor must be kept in a safe place with detonators being kept
be allowed to hang against a wet rock face. separate from explosive materials.
The risk of premature explosion during electric storms is 10.If material in the vicinity of the misfired hole is not
particularly high in tunnelling work. Dangerous static dislodged by the blast, recovery of the misfired charge
charges can also build up in compressed air equipment, and may be attempted by firing shot relieving holes at a
it is essential that such equipment should be positively distance of at least 300mm from the misfired charge. A
earthed. Another hazard is from portable electric lighting similar procedure should be adopted if a misfire is found
cables; such lights should be removed to at least 9m from the after a blast has been fired.
face when preparing or charging blasts. Power to drilling 11.Where misfires are encountered after firing a round, the
and other equipment should also be switched off, or face or structure is likely to be fractured and weakened.
completely isolated, when explosives and detonators are in Any dangerous conditions must be rectified before the
the vicinity. shot firer deals with the misfire.
12.Do not allow persons to approach the shot-firing area or
Shot firing face until he is satisfied that it is safe.
Serious shock and flash wave effects can be experienced
in tunnel blasting work. In straight tunnel work, the minimum Safety fuse misfires
distance from the face to the firing point should be at least In the event of a misfire, the shot firer must adopt the
300m. A shorter distance may be acceptable where a cross- following procedure:-
tunnel or special refuge provides protection but, in such
cases, the dangers from ricochets and fumes must be 1. Ensure that no one approaches the shot firing area until at
assessed. Before the all clear is given, the shot firer must least 30 minutes have elapsed.
ensure that all fume has been adequately diluted or has 2. At the expiration of the 30-minute period, inspect the
dispersed. This may initially require gas testing with a stain safety detonation fuse and, if the cause of the misfire is

December 2010 8C - 7
clearly evident, rectify the fault and make a second
attempt to fire the round.
3. If this second attempt to fire is unsuccessful, the shot firer
may adopt one of the following procedures: -
(a) Remove the stemming by compressed air, or water,
using a non-ferrous or rubber blowpipe. Insert a
primer cartridge into the hole, re-stem and fire, or
(b) Drill a relieving hole at least 300mm away from the
misfired charge, taking care to ensure that this hole is
drilled parallel to the misfired hole. Load and fire the
relieving hole in the normal way.

After either of these procedures has been followed, a

most careful search must be made of the debris for
detonators and unexploded explosives.

Records of misfires
Records should be kept of any misfires, in the case of a
Quarry this should be in accordance with Regulation 28 of
the Quarries Regulations 1999. Misfires are also reportable
under the RIDDOR Regulations 1995 as a dangerous

Disposal of explosives
The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations
2005 require that explosives are disposed of safely and in a
designated area. Therefore extreme care must be taken in
the disposal of unwanted, or apparently deteriorated
explosives. In general, explosives should be returned to
manufacturers or suppliers although substances such as
gelignite can be burned Manufacturers guidance is essential
in this respect and the persons involved should avoid the
fumes as they produce severe headaches. Guidance is also
contained in booklet HS (G) 36 Disposal of explosives waste
and the decontamination of explosives plant. In addition, a
joint publication by the HSE and The Explosives Industry
Group (EGI) has been produced. This is entitled, “Guidance
for the safe disposal of explosives”. Information about this
publication can be found on the EIG web-site.
All empty explosive boxes must be thoroughly examined
by the shot firer, taken to a safe place, at least 50m from the
store or magazine, and burned.

8C - 8 December 2010

Legislation Guidance
Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (Driver Training) HSE Website
Regulations 1996 EIG web-site
Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (Safety Adviser)
HSE Guidance booklets:
Regulations 1999
HS (G) 36 Disposal of explosives waste and the
Carriage of Explosives by Road Regulations 1996
decontamination of explosives plant
Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply)
HSE/EIG Guidance for the Safe Disposal of Explosives
Regulations 1994
HS (G) 114 Conditions for the authorisation of explosives
Classification and Labelling of Explosives Regulations 1983
in Great Britain
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
HS(R) 17 A guide to the Classification and Labelling
Control of Explosives Regulations 1991
of Explosives Regulations 1983
Control of Pollution Act 1974 Sections 60 & 61
HS(R) 27 A guide to the Dangerous Substances in
(neighbourhood noise)
Harbour Areas Regulations 1987
Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987
L10 A guide to the Control of Explosives
Explosives Act 1875 and 1923 (this is gradually being
Regulations 1991
replaced by more modern legislation)
L13 A guide to the Packaging of Explosives for
Explosives Act 1875 etc. (Metrication and Miscellaneous
Carriage Regulations 1991
Amendment) Regulations 1984
L91 Suitability of vehicles and containers and
Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations
limits on quantities for the carriage of
explosives. Approved Code of Practice.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
L92 Approved requirements for the construction
of vehicles for the carriage of explosives by
Manufacture and storage of explosives regulations 2005
Packaging of Explosives for Carriage Regulations 1991
HSE Leaflets:
Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of
IND (G) 115 An introduction to the Control of Explosives
Explosives Regulations 1993
Quarries (Explosives) Regulations 1999
CIS 45 (revised) Establishing exclusion zones when using
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences
explosives in demolition.
Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995
Ammonium Nitrate Materials (High Nitrogen Content)
Regulations 2003
A list of training establishments offering courses on the
Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005
use of explosives is given in BS 5607 Appendix B.
Approved Codes of Practice
All of the above reference material is available from:
Dangerous substances in harbour areas
Construction Industry Publications Ltd.,
Health and safety in quarries, L118
c/o BTB Mailflight Ltd, 2B Viking Industrial Estate,
Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005
Hudson Road, Bedford MK41 0QB
Tel: 0870 078 4400
Suitability of vehicles and containers and limits on quantities
Fax: 0870 078 4401
for the carriage of explosives (HSE booklet L91)
Approved Requirements for the construction of vehicles
intended for the carriage of explosives by road (HSE
booklet L92)

British Standards
BS 5607 Code of practice for the safe use of
explosives in the construction industry
BS 5930 Code of Practice for Site Investigations
BS 4142 Rating Industrial Noise Affecting Mixed
Residential and Industrial Areas
BS 6031 Code of practice for earthworks
BS 6164 Code of practice for safety in tunnelling in
the construction industry
BS 6187 Code of practice for demolition
BS 6657 Guide to the inadvertent initiation of electro
explosive devices by radio frequency

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