Workers in Minnesota deserve to work in safe environments and have their employers take reasonable steps to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, injuries sometimes occur anyway — occasionally fatal ones. This appears to be the case in northern Minnesota where a county worker died when some machinery he was using fell into a river.

According to reports, the man was using an excavator to clear ice from a culvert. Apparently the worker, who had more than a decade of experience working for the Lake County Highway Department operating heavy machinery, was driving the excavator up a river bank. The machine slipped and flipped over into the Beaver River; the worker, a 58-year-old man who was engaged, died at the scene.

Investigators from the county will review the accident as will officials from the state Occupational Safety and Health division of the labor department. The county administrator said that the county is committed to worker safety and intended to make sure that all necessary precautions to keep employees safe were being taken.

Workers who are injured or killed in on-the-job accidents are often entitled to workers’ compensation as a result of their injuries. Their survivors could be entitled to benefits. A friend of the man who was killed this week said he had a fiancée who had two children; it is not clear if they could receive benefits after the man’s death.

Because of potentially confusing circumstances after a worker has died, survivors may wish to work with an attorney who has experience with workplace injuries and workers’ compensation cases.

Source: Duluth News Tribune, “Worker dies after excavator falls into Beaver River,” May 2, 2013

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