DOL Resolves OSHA Citations Against Explosives Maker Following Blast that Killed Two Workers

OSHA cited Black Mag LLC in October 2010 for more than 50 willful, egregious, and serious violations of safety standards in connection with a May 14, 2010, explosion at the company's Colebrook, N.H., facility in which two employees died while manufacturing a gunpowder substitute.

As part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, Black Mag LLC, doing business as BMI and as Black Mag Industries, and Craig Sanborn, the company's president, managing member, and primary owner, have surrendered Black Mag LLC's explosives manufacturing license and will permanently refrain from employing workers in any explosives-related business enterprise.

"What we seek in all cases is for the employer to eliminate hazardous conditions and take effective action to prevent their recurrence," said Marthe Kent, New England regional administrator for OSHA. "This resolution accomplishes those goals by ensuring that neither Black Mag LLC nor Mr. Sanborn will ever again place employees at risk in any kind of business that uses or makes explosives."

OSHA cited Black Mag LLC in October 2010 for more than 50 willful, egregious, and serious violations of safety standards in connection with a May 14, 2010, explosion at the company's Colebrook, N.H., facility in which two employees died while manufacturing a gunpowder substitute. The employer contested the citations and fines to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Black Mag LLC since has withdrawn its notice of contest and agreed to entry of an order that it violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The company has certified that the violations have been abated by termination of all production operations, which occurred when the 2010 explosion destroyed its facility and put it out of business. Because it was licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the company was required by OSHA to execute ATF's Notice of Discontinuance of Business, which the department has turned over to the ATF.

Black Mag LLC and Sanborn also agreed to the entry of a summary enforcement order in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Violation of such an order would permit the department to initiate proceedings for contempt of court, in which potential sanctions could include incarceration to secure compliance.

In the resolution papers, Sanborn agrees that he will not conduct, establish, own, or manage by himself, with, or through others, any current or future business that is covered anywhere under OSHA's explosives or process safety management standards if that business employs workers or independent contractors. Additionally, he will have no involvement in any enterprise that has employees if it is located within 1,000 yards of another business that is covered under OSHA's explosives or process management safety standards.

"While nothing can ever bring Jesse Kennett or Don Kendall back to their loved ones, this resolution is designed to prevent future deaths or injuries," said Michael Felsen, the Labor Department's regional solicitor for New England. "It includes a provision that will allow the Labor Department to charge Mr. Sanborn with contempt in federal court if he violates the terms."

The settlement agreement has been filed with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and will become the Commission's final order on July 21, 2011. After that, the department will file the papers for an enforcement order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit against both Black Mag LLC and Sanborn.

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