Safety continues to be an important development target

Positive developments were achieved in occupational safety, even though the lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) was higher than the previous year’s rate. The results of hygiene at work were still at a good level. Significant investments were made to improve process safety.

In 2018, our work in occupational safety was apparent in, for example, a reduction in the number of eye incidents; on the other hand, the number of lost-time injuries increased compared to the previous year. Terrafame's lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR), or the number of lost-time injuries per one million person-hours worked, increased to 7.4 (2017: 3.5 and 2016: 8.4). The LTIFR of partner companies was 10.1 (2017: 11.7 and 2016: 19.4).

During the year, Terrafame’s employees suffered 8 lost-time injuries and 30 zero injuries, which did not result in sickness absence. The number of zero injuries was at the same level as in the previous year.

The total time lost due to injuries was 90 working days, i.e. 11.25 working days per accident. The most serious injury occurred during maintenance work in a fall accident, which resulted in a longer period of absence. The other lost-time injuries resulted in absences of 1–13 days.

The most common types of injuries were contusion injuries of the hands and fingers during installation work and lower limb injuries caused by slipping and tripping.

The ‘Don't get hurt’ safety campaign started

Terrafame has many different practices to promote safety at work. Non-conformities relating to environmental, safety and quality requirements are dealt with together, their root causes are identified and corrective measures are taken in shared understanding with the relevant parties. Each regular meeting starts with a ‘safety share’ discussion addressing topical safety issues. Review meetings are organised for all accidents, serious near misses and significant environmental con-conformities. If necessary, lessons learned materials will be prepared on the non-conformity. 15-minute info sessions are held on current safety themes. In addition, safety tours attended by the company’s management are organised in all departments.

In total, 124 safety tours and 25 safety review meetings were organised and 24 Lessons learned materials and 12 material packages for the 15-minute info sessions were prepared in 2018. The year also saw the implementation of risk identification measures throughout the organisation, covering all work tasks.

Late 2018 saw the launch of the ‘Don’t get hurt’ safety campaign, which includes a number of safety-related themes, such as anticipating and addressing risks, good managerial work and road safety, including slippery and darkness conditions. As part of the safety campaign, a risk assessment notebook was introduced to help identifying job-related risks before work is started.

Safety training accounts for approximately half of all training

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. Introduction to the industrial fire brigade and instruction in the use of fire extinguishers, as well as chemical safety training at the site, form part of the safety induction. Other types of training include, for example, chemicals training.

During 2018, Terrafame’s own personnel received a total of 8,761 hours of safety training, i.e. 1.64 training days per employee. Safety training accounted for approximately half of all company training. Partners’ personnel received 2,897 hours of safety training and the number of partners’ employees who received training was 2,193.

In the early autumn, a new training class was introduced at the main gate, which will also accommodate larger groups. At the end of the year, the Site Manager system was introduced, which will enable monitoring more closely that the partners’ safety training is up to date.

Hygiene at work was at a good level

Occupational healthcare at Terrafame has been arranged in accordance with the occupational health action plan. At Terrafame, all personnel are subject to initial health checks and follow-ups.

Occupational healthcare also visits work sites, and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health carries out annual occupational hygiene measurements in various process stages. Occupational healthcare also carries out biomonitoring of all personnel, to monitor their exposure to metals. The emphasis of biomonitoring is on nickel; exposure to other metals is analysed through sampling. Based on the results of 2018, the average 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, no work-related occupational diseases have 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 2018, key partners delivered to Terrafame a summary of the biomonitoring results of their personnel, according to which occupational hygiene was at a good level within these companies as well.

Significant investments were made to improve process safety

At Terrafame, process safety is based on well-functioning production, skilled personnel and process automation. During the second half of the year, the target level for production was achieved and the metals production plant was operated at a high utilisation rate during the year, which means the operations is stabilised. In addition to preparing risk assessments for individual projects, the most significant process risks were updated for operational development purposes.

The biggest process safety risks are related to the production of hydrogen sulphide. Over the course of 2018, the risk level was reduced by making improvements to the existing plants, and the corresponding measures were applied to the third hydrogen sulphide plant already in the construction phase.

One exceptional situation connected to process safety occurred during the year: an unexpected discharge of pressure at the heating plant due to burner failure. After the incident, the burner was replaced and the plant was carefully inspected before operations resumed.

In 2017, an electronic change management tool critical to process safety was introduced at the metals production plant. 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 as early as during the preliminary design phase. During 2018, the use of the change management tool was extended to all other departments, too.

Industrial fire brigade carried out tasks also outside the gate

Since the beginning of 2017, Terrafame’s industrial fire brigade has served as a contract fire brigade for Kainuu Rescue Services, which 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 Kainuu Rescue Services, within an approximately 10-kilometre radius of the site.

During 2018, the industrial fire brigade carried out a total of 10 tasks outside the gates, most of which were related to traffic accidents, and some also to wildfires and the prevention of chemical hazards. In addition, the industrial fire brigade was in standby mode during the major power outages caused by heavy snow in early 2018.

In November, in cooperation with Terrafame’s industrial fire brigade, primary care services and the police, Kainuu Rescue Services organised a major accident exercise, as defined in the Seveso III directive. This was done to test various units’ capabilities to carry out rescue tasks and cooperate in an industrial environment. The operations of both Terrafame’s fire brigade and the authorities will be developed based on the exercise.

Terrafame continued to represent European nickel producers

In product safety, the updating of REACH documents for nickel and zinc sulphides continued with the industry’s international organisations. Additionally, Terrafame attended the regular meetings held by the Nickel Institute, and still acts as lead registrant for nickel sulphide for the ECHA.

Terrafame's lost-time injury frequency rate, i.e. the number of lost-time injuries per one million person-hours worked, in 2016–2018.