Windsmith Death

One worker has been killed and two others slightly injured at a Kenetech Windpower site being developed for Northern States Power in Minnesota. The accident, in which Mark Ketterling was killed by ice falling down the inside of a tower during construction, occurred on March 2, says Lincoln County Sheriff's official Marie Gorecki.

The site was closed down for at least two days after the fatality, says Kenetech's Bud Grebey. "We're saddened by the incident. Our first concern is to our workers," he comments. An analysis by Kenetech has been completed and suggests that normal safety procedures were being followed at the time of the accident, says Grebey. CFN Construction, Kenetech's construction subsidiary, has not previously experienced a fatality on a job site, he says.

Ketterling and another man, Dan Johnson -- both of whom were wearing hard hats -- were bombarded by chunks of ice falling down the inside of a tubular tower. The second half of the tower had just been installed as part of the 25 MW plant, at Lake Benton on Buffalo Ridge. The tower had already been de-iced with a rubber mallet when more ice was noticed, says Grebey. "They were exiting the tower at the time of the accident," he continues. "Apparently ice cascaded down the inside of the tower."

One chunk caught Ketterling, knocking off his hard hat and sending him and Johnson hurtling towards the ground. Ketterling was killed instantly as he hit a protruding piece of metal. Johnson was treated in hospital and released. A third worker, Dan Schepker, reportedly hit by ice, was also released from hospital.

A crisis trauma team to help other workers was sent to the site, which was closed for at least two days, says Grebey, and safety procedures were reinforced on the rest of the site. A probe is under way by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Enforcement Division.