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Safety record of New Hampshire Ball Bearings finds no incidents since 2007

Union Leader Correspondent

February 11. 2014 12:37PM

PETERBOROUGH — New Hampshire Ball Bearings' Peterborough plant has a fairly clean safety record, especially in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

On Monday afternoon, an explosion at the factory where ball bearings are made injured 14 people – two critically – and has resulted in the temporary closure of the plant.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Deputy Fire Marshal Max Schultz said the explosion occurred just after a shift change around 3:47 p.m. and apparently involved chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

Richard Bardellini, the vice president of manufacturing for the company, said the explosion occurred in an area where the ball bearings undergo "surface treatment," but he did not elaborate on what's involved in that process.

Inspectors from the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arrived at the scene of the explosion late Monday afternoon, according to Andre Bowser, deputy regional director for the Department of Labor's Office of Public Affairs.

The inspectors are working with other local, state and federal inspectors to ensure that safety protocols were in use prior to the explosion.

"Currently, it's too early to say how long the inspection will take," Bowser said.

Bardellini said the company's safety record is "excellent."

OSHA records indicate that since 2007, there have been no complaints filed against the company or any investigations made at the Peterborough plant.

Between 2006 and 2007, there were two complaints made against the company regarding the safety of the machines used in the Peterborough facility. OSHA performed two unannounced inspections and found the company to be at fault for not following safety regulations.

The company was fined a total of $3,400 in penalties for the three violations, but there have been no incidents since, according to OSHA records.

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