Explosives are of significant concern to governments at many levels.
Generally, the larger agencies focus on national security issues, manufacturing and transportation. The mid-level agencies are concerned with worker safety, property protection and environmental protection. The smaller agencies are the first responders such as police and firefighters in the case of emergency. Quite often these responsibilities will overlap.
Unfortunately many of the regulatory responsibilities on the use of explosives are split by industry type. The primary industries are construction, quarries, coal mining, demolition and agriculture. Each of these will be regulated by different agencies as outlined by law. The basic regulatory areas are discussed below along with an example United States reference agency.
- Public Safety: Most of the local emergency first responders have been trained on how to deal with explosive hazards and know the responsible regulatory authority. They are a valuable source of contact information.
- Permits/Licenses/Certifications: These are often issued at the provincial/state level where permits to conduct explosive use are needed. The type of permit is dependent on the type of industry. (PADEP )
- Environmental: Protection from the adverse effects of blasting (ground and air vibrations, flyrock and fumes) are often controlled by the provincial/state agencies responsible for public safety. The purpose of these environmental agencies is generally to ensure that blasting is conducted in a manner that prevents injury and damage to property outside the project area. (OSM or WV OEB)
- Labor Safety: Workers on the project site must follow basic safety and use of explosives guidelines for their own protection. These practices may be reviewed at the national/federal level, provincial/state level or both. (OSHA, KY OMSL)
- Explosives Manufacturing and Storage: When quantities of explosive exist at the same location, site security, storage and sufficient distances from public building and people are necessary to ensure safety. National/Federal agencies are generally responsible for establishing manufacturing procedures, storage container requirements and set back distance for storage area. (ATF)
- Transportation: When explosives enter commerce, they must travel public pathways to their final destination. To ensure safe transportation all vehicle will be placarded as required by national/federal rules. Local/Municipal agencies have been trained how to respond to accidents based on the placards. (USDOT)
- National Security: Most countries restrict the people able to obtain explosives products for public safety and the common good. National/Federal agencies will often ensure that prohibited persons cannot obtain explosive products. (ATF)
In addition to government agencies, professional groups set standards to guide users in the safe manufacture, storage, transportation and use of explosives. These groups may be industry trade or professional associations. The industry trade associations set standards and lobby on behalf of the industry. Professional associations focus on expanding technical expertise of the membership.
If you need to contact someone about blasting near you, please make note of the blast location, date, time and area of specific concern. Then contact the nearest fire department that should be able to direct you to the responsible regulatory authority.