Explosives

This page pertains to the manufacture, use and storage of explosives for other than construction-related tasks. The use of explosives for blasting operations in construction is discussed in the blasting and explosives safety and health topic page.

Explosives

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is an explosive?

An "explosive" is any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion, i.e., with substantially instantaneous release of gas and heat, unless such compound, mixture, or device is otherwise specifically classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (see 49 CFR chapter I).

The term "explosives" includes all material which is classified as Class A, Class B, and Class C explosives by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Explosives include, but is not limited to, dynamite, black powder, pellet powders, initiating explosives, blasting caps, electric blasting caps, safety fuse, fuse lighters, fuse igniters, squibs, cordeau detonant fuse, instantaneous fuse, igniter cord, igniters, small arms ammunition, small arms ammunition primers, smokeless propellant, cartridges for propellant-actuated power devices, and cartridges for industrial guns. Commercial explosives are those explosives which are intended to be used in commercial or industrial operations.

  • Class A explosives: Possess detonating, or otherwise maximum hazard. Examples: dynamite, nitroglycerin, picric acid, lead azide, fulminate of mercury, black powder, blasting caps, and detonating primers.

  • Class B explosives: Possess flammable hazards. Examples: propellant explosives (including some smokeless propellants), photographic flash powders, and some special fireworks

  • Class C explosives: Includes certain types of manufactured articles which contain Class A or Class B explosives, or both, as components but in restricted quantities.

What are the hazards associated with explosives?

Serious bodily injury, death, and significant property damage due to detonation and fire.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Some of the precautions to follow regarding the handling and storage of explosives include not storing blasting caps, detonating primers and primed cartridges in the same magazine as other explosives. Be sure that only non-sparking tools are used around explosives and explosive materials. Employees of manufacturers of explosives should ensure that they have been informed about any chemical processes in their work area(s) and know about procedures associated with changes to these processes. Employers are required to ensure that employees have been trained about the health and physical hazards of chemicals in their work areas and about any processes involving any high hazardous chemicals

What resources are available to employers?

Safety and Health Programs

Example programs on hazard communication, emergency action plan and fire prevention plan, respiratory protection and PPE hazard assessment can assist the employer with their hazard communication, emergency planning and identifying the appropriate personal protective equipment required in the workplace.

Training and Outreach Services

Presentations on hazard communication, exit routes, emergency action and fire prevention plans, respiratory protection and personal protective equipment (general industry and construction) can assist employers in training their staff. These presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards.

The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. In addition, these pre-recorded webinars on hazard communication and  respiratory protection are also available for employee training.

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video service) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

A-Z Safety and Health Topics

Other relevant resources can be found on the A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routes, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, HAZWOPER, blasting and explosivesemergency action plans, process safety management, respiratory protection and fire prevention plans

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to explosives in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

Additional OSH standards relevant to the manufacture, storage and use of explosives include:

General Industry

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.