By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The work year was barely a day old when Minnesota suffered its first fatal workplace accident.

Fifty-eight-year-old Kelly Clifford Hoban, of South St. Paul, died Monday evening after falling into a large grain bin at a Shakopee plant, making contact with some processing equipment.

The call came in around 9:15 p.m. at the Rahr Malting Company plant, a major supplier of malt to United States breweries. Emergency crews arrived to discover Hoban deceased in a grain bin. It appears to be an accidental fall.

Company officials say Hoban had been employed at the plant for just three months.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

James Honerman, a spokesman for the Department of Labor and Industry, says OSHA opened its investigation of the death Tuesday.

Investigators will start by looking at worker training, any hazards that were present and examining safety protocols in place at the time.

“[We’re] trying to determine what caused or contributed [to the death], and then if there [were] any OSHA standards that were violated, that’s what we would be looking for,” Honerman said.

State records show that Rahr was last inspected back in 2009. The state has issued the company seven separate safety violations since 1989, although none were major.

A 2013 explosion rocked Rahr’s power subsidiary on the property, Koda Energy, but there were no injuries. Minnesota OSHA did not investigate that incident.

“Our goal is to find out what may have caused or contributed, but we don’t necessarily have a time frame for when that occurs,” Honerman said.

Rahr issued a statement expressing sadness for all employees, and condolences to Hoban’s family, adding, “We are working with public safety officials and OSHA to evaluate all aspects of the incident.”

Minnesota has an average of 17 workplace fatalities each year. The leading factors are employees coming into contact with an object or equipment, followed by accidental falls.