Michaels: Owner's Sentence Fitting in Explosion Case

The OSHA assistant secretary issued a statement Nov. 27 saying Craig Sanborn's prison sentence should send a message to some other employers.

Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels issued a statement Nov. 27 about the sentence given to Craig Sanborn in Coös County Superior Court in New Hampshire for two counts of manslaughter in connection with an explosion that killed two workers at Black Mag LLC in Colebrook, N.H., as they were making a gunpowder substitute. Sanborn was the company's president and primary owner; the statement says he was sentenced to five to 10 years on the two counts, to be served consecutively, and fined $10,000.

OSHA investigated the May 14, 2010, explosion that killed employees Jesse Kennett and Don Kendall. The agency cited Black Mag for 16 willful violations and more than 30 serious safety violation and issued a $1.2 million fine. Sanborn contested the case to OSHRC but later agreed to surrender his ATF explosives manufacturing license and permanently refrain from employing workers in any explosives-related business enterprise, according to OSHA.

"The disregard for safety cost two workers their lives, and this jury agreed that Craig Sanborn's actions were criminal," Michaels said in the statement. "Sanborn recklessly ignored basic safety measures that would have protected their lives. His criminal conviction and sentence won't bring these men back to life, but it will keep him from putting workers' lives in peril. And it should drive home to employers this message: Worker safety can never be sacrificed for the benefit of production, and workers' lives are not—and must never be—considered part of the cost of doing business. We categorically reject the false choice between profits and safety.

"The Labor Department commends the Coös County Attorney's Office for its successful prosecution. We also appreciate the invaluable cooperation of the New Hampshire Department of Safety, specifically the Fire Marshal and the State Police, during our investigation."

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