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Autopsy Reveals Minnesota Power Employee Electrocuted in Accident

COOK COUNTY, MINNESOTA – A longtime Minnesota Power employee found dead at a North Shore work site in September was fatally electrocuted, a death certificate filed in Cook County reveals.

Although the death of Kyle Damberg, 47, was deemed an accident, investigation into the workplace circumstances leading to the death are still under way by the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“It’s still an open investigation; there’s nothing public yet,” said James Honerman, an OSHA spokesman. “We’re looking at the hazards that may have contributed to the death. We have to make sure we’re looking at every aspect of the case before we make any recommendations.”

Damberg’s body was found in a maintenance building under construction near the company’s Taconite Harbor Energy Center in Schroeder on the afternoon of Sept. 3. Damberg, a designer in the engineering services department, was there alone to do a status check on the project. He had worked for Minnesota Power for 23 years.

A visitor to the site to pick up some machinery found Damberg lying on the floor of the building, unconscious and not breathing. He had been dead a couple of hours, Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk said. Initial sheriff’s office reports called it a “sudden death.”

No one witnessed what happened to Damberg, complicating the probe. Dr. Sandra Stover of Grand Marais performed the autopsy and determined the cause of death.

After learning the official cause of death on Monday, Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge declined comment.

“We really can’t comment until we have all the facts,” she said.

From the beginning, Minnesota Power acknowledged the death was a “tragic work site accident.” Besides working with OSHA, the company also hired a third-party investigator to find out what happened.

“We certainly want answers,” Rutledge said.

If OSHA’s investigation determines that hazards existed that contributed to Damberg’s death, penalties could be imposed on Minnesota Power.

Minnesota Power, however, has had a good track record with OSHA, often exceeding basic standards to prevent job-related illnesses and accidents at its work sites, Honerman noted in September.

Story via TwinCities.com

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