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Worker avoids injury in mishap similar to earlier fatal incident

ULEN, Minn.

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ULEN, Minn. - A man was buried up to his neck in corn here Wednesday at an elevator complex where another worker was fatally injured last summer in a similar incident.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Occupational Safety and Health Division, investigated the June incident at West Central Ag Services and fined the company $26,350.

The company is currently making payments.

In Wednesday's accident, a worker was in an empty storage bin of the West Central Ag Services main complex when a shower of corn was somehow released, partially burying the worker, Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said.

Bergquist said the worker, identified by an emergency worker on the scene as Anthony Cory, was provided with oxygen while fellow workers labored to free him.


Cory wasn't injured but he was taken to a Fargo hospital to get checked out, Bergquist said.

West Central Ag Services officials did not respond to several requests for comment.

In last summer's accident, David Grafsgaard, 47, became trapped in a grain elevator at the complex June 19 when corn fell on top of him.

Bergquist said at the time that it took about 45 minutes for rescue crews to free Grafsgaard, who died the next day at a Fargo hospital.

Following an investigation, state officials cited West Central Ag Services for four "serious" non-willful violations.

Records provided by Minnesota OSHA say employees were working inside a grain bin when corn product that had built up on the side walls fell, completely burying one employee and engulfing a second worker up to waist level.

The records also state:

E Employees did not receive training about the special hazards associated with entering a grain bin - particularly engulfment hazards.


E An observer was not posted outside a bin while others were inside.

E Rescue equipment was not immediately available to assist in the rescue operation.

The $26,350 in fines included a special fatality fine of $25,000.

West Central Ag Services has paid $6,350 in fines and is to pay $5,000 a year for the next four years to cover the remainder.

James Honerman, a spokesman for Minnesota OSHA, said the agency will review the company each year and may decide at any time to waive outstanding fine amounts.

The agency was reviewing Wednesday's incident to determine whether an investigation will be conducted, Honerman said.

Other incidents at the complex in recent years include an early 2006 fire that damaged a grain drier.

WDAY TV reporter Sarah Klaphake


contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555.

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I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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