Company President Sentenced to Prison for Safety Violations

Dec 22nd, 2013 | By | Category: Health and Safety

EHS Journal - Flames-Blur by Felipe Wiecheteck

A company president in the United States has been sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison for his role in safety deficiencies that caused the death of two men. The prison sentence is in addition to a US$ 1.2 million penalty levied against the company in 2010 and a personal penalty of US$ 10,000 levied against the president and primary business owner, Craig Sanborn, as part of the criminal sentencing.

The penalties were issued in connection with the May 2010 explosion at the Black Mag LLC plant in New Hampshire, United States that killed two employees who were manufacturing a gunpowder substitute. An investigation conducted by the U.S. Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following the explosion resulted in issuance of 16 willful safety violations and more than 30 serious safety violation citations. The company was also forced to surrender its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms explosives manufacturing permits, which put the company out of business.

Safety violations included:

  • failure to implement essential protective controls including remote starting procedures;
  • failure to isolate operating stations, establish safe distancing, and erect barriers or shielding;
  • failure to provide personal protective equipment and other safety measures required for safe work with hazardous materials; and
  • failure to provide sufficient training on workplace hazards.


According to OSHA Assistant Secretary, Dr. David Michaels,

Sanborn (the company president) 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.


Additional Information

OSHA’s November 27, 2013 press release on the prison sentence.

OHSA’s June 29, 2011 press release regarding the initial enforcement order.

Detailed information on the willful and serious violations found at Black Mag LLC.


About the Author

Michael Bittner, CPEA, is a senior partner in the Boston, U.S.A. office of Environmental Resources Management, an international environmental, health, and safety (EHS) consultancy. Mr. Bittner specializes in global EHS solutions, including strategic planning, sustainability, management systems, compliance assurance, performance improvement, and audits. He is the editor of the EHS Journal.

Photograph: Flames/Blur by Felipe Wiecheteck, Curitiba, PR, Brazil.


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