Working With Explosives

Working with explosives naturally has the potential to be extremely dangerous. The main legislation with regard to this is predominantly concerned with the manufacture and storage of such items.


The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 stipulate that anybody who is involved with their manufacture and storage must take full responsibility for their safety with regards to explosion and fire risks and to implement measures to protect others who are working within such an environment.

In relation to storage, explosives must be kept in a separate building at a suitable separation distance from other buildings where people might be working or inhabiting. The smaller the separation, the smaller the quantity explosives can be stored. With only a few exceptions, companies who manufacture or store explosives are required to hold a licence to permit that and, in some cases, they must also hold an explosives certificate.

Where there is a large volume of explosives manufactured and/or stored, the Health and Safety Executive will be responsible for issuing the licence but if a company stores less than 2 tons of explosive materials, they are usually registered or licensed by either the police or local authority.


When it comes to the security of the manufacture and storage of explosives, for whatever purpose, companies need to adhere to the rules and regulations as laid out in the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Explosives Act 1875
  • The Control of Explosives Regulations 1991
  • The Marking of Plastics Explosives for Detection Regulations 1996

The Main Types of Explosives

These are all covered by the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 (COER) and cover all explosives which might be used within any military, commercial or leisure establishment. These include:

  • Ammunition
  • Detonators
  • Propellants
  • Blasting explosives
  • Fuses
  • Fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices

COER states that anyone wanting to store such explosives must be issued with an Explosives Certificate. These can be obtained from the police. Individuals or companies wishing to obtain one of these needs to ensure that accurate and updated records are kept of the explosives which are being stored and that you must immediately inform the police of any theft or loss of explosives.

Anybody who has been imprisoned for certain offences is not permitted to keep, control or handle explosives or certain other substances which could be used to manufacture explosives. COER must also be adhered to in conjunction with the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 1995 as it was amended from the original 1991 legislation.

Other Safety Precautions

The HSE have published risk assessment checklists with regards to the manufacture and storage of explosives but other issues that need to be taken into account are the correct procedure for the disposal of explosives and the proper decontamination of any explosive contaminated items.

With regards to supervision, workers between 16 and 18 must always be supervised if their job entails the manufacture and storage of explosives and of paramount importance are the people who come to a visit a site. It is an offence to enter a licensed and registered explosives facility without the express permission of the licensed owner and to refuse to leave if asked to do so.

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