Safety at the industrial site on an increasingly high level

Substantial efforts were made in occupational safety and hygiene and excellent results were achieved during the year. Terrafame’s industrial fire brigade started as a contract fire brigade for Kainuu Regional Rescue Authority enhancing the level of emergency services also in the community.

2017 was successful in terms of occupational safety. Terrafame’s own lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR), i.e. the number of lost-time injuries per one million person-hours worked, fell to 3.5 from 8.4 in the previous year, which was better than the target, set at under 5.0. The LTIFR of partner companies operating at the site was 11.7.

During the year, Terrafame’s employees suffered 4 lost-time injuries and 22 minor zero injuries, which did not result in sickness absence. Lost-time injuries resulted in a total of 54 days of sickness absence, or 13.5 working days per injury. The average was increased by one slip due to icy conditions, which caused a sickness absence of 41 days. The remaining lost-time injuries resulted in absences of 1–4 days.

The most common injuries were hand and finger contusions resulting from installation work, lower limb injuries caused by slipping, as well as minor eye injuries caused by debris.

A wide range of tools to support occupational safety

The rapid decline in the injury frequency rate in 2016–2017 has been achieved by increasing the awareness of occupational safety. This has meant the analysis of accidents, deviations and near misses, and implementation of the measures that were subsequently agreed.

Safety sessions are also held for employees, with prepared materials aimed at preventing injuries. Actual injuries are used to draw up “lessons learned” materials, which are also distributed to other companies operating at the site. The number of materials grew from two to 20 during the year.  

205 department-led safety rounds were conducted during 2017. The safety round procedure was modified towards the end of the year by combining the separate management and department safety rounds. Representatives of management participate in one of the departments’ safety rounds every week. Management participated in 78 safety rounds during the year.

Increase in amount of safety training

The externally organised safety management training for supervisors, started in 2016, was continued in 2017. Terrafame organises compulsory safety training for both its own personnel and partners, comprising safety info and an occupational safety card, emergency first aid and hot work licence training. Presentation of the plant fire brigade and instruction in the use of fire extinguishers, as well as chemical safety training at the site, form part of Terrafame’s safety induction. Additionally, training in chemicals is organised, among other things.

During 2017, Terrafame’s own personnel received a total of 7,013 hours of safety training, i.e. 1.27 training days per employee. Partners’ personnel received 2,970 hours of safety training and the number of partners’ employees who received training was 2,335.

Growing emphasis on occupational hygiene

Terrafame’s occupational health care is organised in accordance with the occupational health action plan, and pre-recruitment and follow-up medical examinations are performed on all personnel. Occupational health care also conducts work place visits, and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health provides occupational hygiene measurements in various process stages annually. Furthermore, occupational health care carries out biomonitoring, in which the employees’ exposure to metals is monitored regularly. The emphasis of biomonitoring is on nickel, but other metals are also examined through sampling. Based on the results of the past year, the exposure level of Terrafame's personnel does not differ from the typical level of the Finnish population. On the basis of the summary data on the monitoring and measurement of employees' health, work-related occupational diseases have not been observed at Terrafame, either.

It is a requirement of Terrafame that its partners operating at the site organise occupational health care and, to a large extent, biomonitoring. During 2017, guidance and control of occupational hygiene provided to partners was increased further.

In process safety, the year went well

The root causes of the fire in a hydrogen sulphide reactor in December 2016 were analysed, and changes were made to the reactors. Experience from the fire influenced the technical solutions for the new hydrogen sulphide reactor under construction, as well as the selection of fire prevention solutions.

During 2017, an electronic change management tool critical to process safety was implemented at Terrafame. The tool is used in process and equipment changes, and it helps identify occupational safety, environmental and process risks, as well as the statutory obligations related to them as early as during the preliminary design phase.

Developmental leaps in fire and rescue capabilities

Since the beginning of the year, Terrafame’s industrial fire brigade has served as a contract fire brigade for Kainuu Regional Rescue Authority. This arrangement has contributed to the rise in the level of emergency services in the sparsely populated area around the industrial site. The industrial fire brigade serves as a unit under Regional Rescue Authority, within an approximately 10-kilometre radius of the site.

In the summer, together with Regional Rescue Authority, Terrafame’s industrial fire brigade organised a rescue drill at the mining site. The topic was the evacuation of an injured person from a large mining vehicle. In the autumn, Regional Rescue Authority and Terrafame’s industrial fire brigade held smoke diving drills.

During 2017, Terrafame also updated the safety report in accordance with the Seveso III Directive, which deals with significant major accident hazards and their impact areas. The report was also used as a basis for preparing safety communications for the neighbouring area.

Terrafame continued to represent European nickel producers

In product safety, the update of REACH documents for nickel and zinc sulphides continued with the industry’s international organisations. For the purposes of product development, Terrafame filed for test product authorisations with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the most important being the test product authorisation for copper sulphide. Additionally, Terrafame attended the regular meetings held by the Nickel Institute, and still acts as lead registrant for nickel sulphide for the ECHA.

Lost-time injury frequency (LTIFR) meaning the number of injuries per million person-hours worked in 2017 and 2016.