One week has passed since the tragic fall accident that occurred in the Svappavaara pelletizing plant. The intervening time has been bewildering, difficult and intensive. Above all, it has been a matter of trying to understand the incomprehensible – that a friend and colleague has died.
“All of our thoughts go to Julia Markström’s family and friends, as well as to her closest co-workers in Svappavaara. This is an inconceivable tragedy; the very worst that can happen,” says Magnus Arnkvist, Senior Vice President, Southern Division. The period since the accident has been intensive. It has primarily been a matter of ensuring the safety of all who work at, or visit, LKAB’s sites. “We take our work with the Safety First programme very seriously. We still have a long way to go, but we are convinced that we have chosen the right path. Everyone must be able to feel safe and secure at work. This has been a major failure for us at LKAB,” says Magnus Arnkvist.
Immediately after the accident the area was cordoned off, as were other access ways in the pelletizing plant. These areas are still closed and no unauthorized personnel may use the access ways and service platforms that must be inspected. “We are still fully occupied with our efforts to normalize the workplace,” says Anders Björnström, general manager of LKAB’s Svappavaara operation. Slowly but surely, the organization has begun to work towards resuming operations. It has mainly been a matter of preparing access ways and service platforms for inspection.”This is a very extensive undertaking that will continue over a very long period. Together with co-workers, our internal inspector and the inspector, we have conducted a risk analysis and a plan for the inspection. “Says Anders Björnström. No one is allowed to enter the area without safety harnesses, before the inspection has been carried out and necessary steps taken.”We still cannot say when the plant will be up and running again; we will start when we are ready. Production is irrelevant at this point in time. We must be able to ensure safety and security before we resume operations,” says Anders Björnström.
Concurrently with the inspections, the police, the Swedish Work Environment Authority and LKAB are conducting investigations of the incident. Since investigations are under way, it is as yet too soon to make any statement concerning the direct causes of the accident. “Now we must do everything we can to learn from this tragedy and make every effort to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again. We at LKAB will participate fully in police and Swedish Work Environment Authority investigations of the incident while conducting our own investigations to determine what has happened and which measures must be taken. This will involve everything from studying the condition of the plant and looking to see if anything has been installed incorrectly to reviewing safety procedures. We will get to the bottom of this,” says Magnus Arnkvist.