Worker dies in industrial accident at Benson Power

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Shortly after 3 p.m., last Wednesday Dec. 6, the Swift County-Benson Health Services ambulance, Benson Fire Department, and Benson Police Department responded to an emergency call that a man had fallen at Benson Power, LLC.

EMTs and rescue personnel administered life-saving measures at the scene with the man then transported to the SCBHS emergency room. “Unfortunately, the individual did not survive his injuries and was pronounced dead,” the report released by Police Chief Ian Hodge stated. Also assisting at the scene was the Swift County Sheriff's Office.

Family members have identified the man as Jeff C. Anderson, 54, of rural Ormsby in southern Minnesota. He was a 1982 graduate of St. James High School.

Anderson was a temporary contract worker at the plant who was accompanied by his son, Anthony, and his son’s girlfriend,  for the one-day job. They were supposed to be going to Indiana to start another assignment after finishing up in Benson. All three worked for Mechanical Systems, Inc., (MSI) of Dundas, MN.

Though “a fall” was listed as the initial cause of the accident family members have disputed that description of how the accident occurred. They have also stated that a heavy slab fell on him causing multiple injuries.

Anthony Anderson was working nearby his father at the time of the accident and rushed to see what had happened when he heard a crashing noise. He found him beneath a heavy slab that he lifted off his father, the Monitor-News was told.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the fatal accident and will be in charge of releasing additional information, Hodge said.

OSHA investigators were at Benson Power last Thursday studying the accident scene and talking with workers.

MNOSHA inspects work areas for safety or health hazards, tries to determine what caused or contributed to the accidents and reviews whether existing OSHA standards were violated, Communications Director James Honerman stated in an email to the Monitor-News.

“When our investigators open an inspection, they walk around the establishment to inspect work areas for safety or health hazards,” the email said. “An inspection tour may cover part or all of an establishment, even if the inspection resulted from a specific complaint or fatality.  The route and duration of the inspection are determined by the investigator, the email said.

“The investigator will observe safety and health conditions and practices; consult with employees privately; take photos, videos or instrument readings; review safety and health training records; etc.,” Honerman’s email stated.

The investigator points out to the employer any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions observed during the inspection or at the closing conference, he stated. Apparent violations detected by the investigator may be corrected immediately.

“Even though corrected, these apparent violations can still serve as the basis for a citation and penalty,” Honerman said. However, prompt action may be considered as a factor in penalty reduction.

There is no set time frame for an investigation, his email said. Minnesota’s OSHA Compliance investigates approximately 17 work-related fatalities each year.

A visitation for Anderson was scheduled for Tuesday evening, Dec. 12, with a private family service to follow.

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