Worker dies in northern Minn. lumber mill fall 30 Apr 13

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota OSHA is investigating why a catwalk fell inside a forestry mill near Bemidji, sending a worker to his death.

The Hubbard County sheriff’s office says 23-year-old Mitchell Harthan of Grand Rapids, Minn., fell to his death Saturday afternoon at the Potlatch Lumber Mill.

Authorities say Harthan was doing maintenance work about 40 to 50 feet overhead when a section of catwalk he was standing on fell.

Harthan died at the scene. He was a Potlatch employee for the past two years.

A Potlatch spokesman says the Spokane, Wash.-based company is “deeply saddened” by the employee’s death.

The Star Tribune reports the state ranks Potlatch as one of the safest companies operating in Minnesota. It was the company’s first fatality at the mill since it opened in 1990.