Knife River fined over worker's death

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued three citations and fined Knife River North Central by more than $3,500 following its investigation of an incident that killed an employee at its Milaca surface stone facility nearly one year ago.

Scott Armstrong, a 41-year-old employee of Knife River, was killed last Dec. 8 when an axle assembly struck him in the head.

The accident occurred “due to management’s failure to have procedures in place to ensure equipment is taken out of service or properly repaired,” stated MSHA’s final report.

The investigation found that no blocking was in place to prevent the fall of the conveyor. The report also determined that Armstrong was not properly trained on the assembly’s installation. The citations were for failure to take the defective equipment out of service, having Armstrong too close to the suspended load and for not properly training the employee.

A representative for Knife River said the company won’t contest any of the citations.

During the past five years, Knife River had received one other citation with a fine  for an unrelated violation in 2010, for a lack of guards or shields to protect people from flying or falling materials.

Knife River, headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., conducts operations in 17 states and has 5,000 employees during the peak construction season.

Armstrong, a Royalton High School graduate, worked for Knife River, formerly Bauerly Brothers, from 1999-2008. He returned to the company in June of 2011. He is survived by his wife, Donna, and their five children.