N.H. workplace deaths lowest in U.S. in 2010

New Hampshire had the fewest number of workplace deaths in the country in 2010, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.Five people — all men — died on the job in New Hampshire last year, which was the fewest number of workplace fatalities in the Granite State since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tabulating them in 1992.That’s one fewer than the six who died on the job the previous year, and is down significantly from the 23 recorded in both 1997 and 1998 — the state’s highest years on record since 1992.Elsewhere in the region, Massachusetts and Connecticut — the New England states with the largest workforces — had the most workplace deaths, 51 and 49 respectively, which together accounted for 70 percent of New England’s 146 workplace fatalities. Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island had 19, 13 and 9 deaths respectively.All told, workplace deaths in New England accounted for about 3 percent of the 4,547 worker deaths in the country last year.Seven states had more workplace fatalities last year than all of New England combined: Texas (456), California (302), Pennsylvania (219), Florida (215), Illinois (203), New York (182) and Ohio (156).Nationally, transportation incidents accounted for 39 percent of deaths, followed by homicides (11 percent), falling to a lower level (11 percent), being struck by an object (9 percent), exposure to harmful substances or environments (9 percent) and fires and explosions (4 percent).Several of New Hampshire’s 2010 workplace deaths resulted in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.On May 14, 2010, Jesse Kennett, 49, and Donald Kendall, 56, were killed and a third was injured in an explosion at the Black Mag plant in Colebrook, which manufactured gunpowder substitutes.An OSHA investigation determined that the workers had been required to hand feed powder into operating equipment. Following the investigation, OSHA issued the plant 54 workplace safety and health citations with penalties totaling $1.2 million. After the workers’ deaths, the plant shut down, and its president and primary owner, Craig Sanborn, was barred from ever making explosives again in the future.And on July 26, 2010, Leo Gonyea was killed when he was pulled through a paper roller machine at APC Paper Co. in Claremont. Gonyea, 34, an Enfield resident, had been feeding the machine by hand.The mill was fined $288,000 by OSHA for what it alleged were willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards.Among the findings of its inspection, OSHA determined that the company failed to provide employees with an effective way of feeding paper into the roller and did not guard moving parts of the machine from employee contact. — KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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