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Explosives Inspectorate | Alert | No.115 V 1 | 15 February 2024

Unplanned initiation of pyrotechnic distress signal

What happened?

During the collection of a surrendered pyrotechnic device (line thrower), the explosive device has functioned unexpectedly as it was being picked up for packaging.
There were no injuries, however handling tampered explosive devices poses a potential risk of harm.

How did it happen?

The investigation identified the following:

  • The explosives device was tampered with.
  • The firing pin safety seal was removed.
  • Low lighting hindered the inspection of the explosive device, making the tampering difficult to detect before handling.
  • The firing trigger had been activated.

Key issues

Explosives devices include safety features, and if tampered with, the controls are disabled, rendering them unsafe and potentially dangerous.


To prevent a recurrence of this type of significant incident the following recommendations are made:

  • The training material for marine pyrotechnic safety devices at this site did not include any information on the handling of line throwers. Operators should ensure any person involved in the use or handling of explosive devices has access to and reviews training material around safely handling explosive devices.
  • Operators should ensure that those documented work procedures include comprehensive guidelines for handling the full range of explosives relevant to the work.
  • Ensure these procedures include sections on inspection, identification of tampering, and proper handling of explosives devices.
  • If unsure, seek advice from your supervisor or RSHQ’s Explosive Inspectorate on 1300 739 868

Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available. The information in this publication is what is known at the time of writing.

We issue Safety Notices to draw attention to the occurrence of a serious incident, raise awareness of risks, and prompt assessment of your existing controls.

References and further information

  1. Explosives Act 1999
  2. Explosives Regulation 2017
  3. Explosives safety alert no. 76 | 28 October 2013 | Version 1

Authorised by Snezana Bajic - Deputy Chief Inspector – Explosives

Contact: Haydn Isaac, Principal Inspector of Explosives , +61 7 4936 0142

Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safety: This information is issued to promote safety through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.
Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy, understand the content, findings and recommendations as applicable to their operation. SSEs should validate that recommendations have been implemented.