Potash worker killed by bin collapse

A worker died early Saturday morning when a large storage bin broke apart and buried him in potash ore at a Mosaic Company facility near Esterhazy, Sask. Another worker is in hospital with injuries from the accident, which took place around 2 a.m. Saturday. It was not known how serious the injuries were, but it was expected the worker would survive.

“A bin failed, and subsequently the potash poured out of it at that time,” Chandra Pratt, the human resources manager for Mosaic in Esterhazy, told CBC News.

The storage bin is located above ground and is associated with the Mosaic Company’s K2 potash mine. Esterhazy is about 225 kilometres east of Regina.

“Two of our employees were in the area at the time,” Pratt explained. “One worker was taken to hospital and the second worker unfortunately died at the scene.”

Pratt said both the workers involved are from Esterhazy area. Family members of the dead employee have been notified and are being assisted by a counsellor, Pratt said.

A family member who contacted CBC News said the man who died is Tom Merrit and he is married with two children. The family member did not have an exact age but thought Merrit was in his early 30s.

Pratt could not confirm the name of the man who died. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to the employee’s family and friends,” she said.

There was no information available on the identity of the injured worker.

Other workers rushed to help

Pratt said fellow workers on the overnight shift were nearby when the accident occurred and immediately rushed to the scene of the collapse.

“Their crew was quickly deployed at the time and quite quickly pulled the one worker out of the debris,” Pratt said. “Unfortunately, the other fellow wasn’t as easy to get to.”

The storage bins hold an estimated 800 tonnes of potash ore. The material is still in a raw form and is not yet processed.

When asked whether the company had ever had troubles with the bins before, Pratt said: “Not like this, no.”

The collapsed bin was one of several bins at the mine site. Pratt did not have an exact count.

“The RCMP and the provincial mine safety unit have been contacted, and they’re on site conducting an investigation,” Pratt said. “We’re at this point assisting them with the investigation and the cleanup.”



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