More efficient coordination - safer working environment for external suppliers to LKAB

LKAB Contact    LTU Contact Prof Lena Abrahamsson
Posted in Sustainable mining


The hiring of contractors and external suppliers has steadily increased in LKAB and the mining industry as a whole since the 1980s. This external workforce now performs a significant part of the total working hours within LKAB, with suppliers and subcontractors operating both above and below ground.

Hiring vendors has however not been without problems. Already in 1984 The Swedish Mining Association stated already in 1984 that there was an increasing need to inform providers about the risk of accidents during work in the mines. Other early international studies showed that temporary workers had more serious accidents than permanent staff. The increased risk was considered to be caused by the specific tasks performed and by the lack of competence among the temporary staff. Within LKAB accident rates have in recent years been seemingly much higher among external suppliers, compared to LKAB: own workforce. There is probably also a significant under-reporting of hazards, incidents and accidents among the external suppliers.


The projects main aim is to study how work environment management is applied in practice by external suppliers /contractors and LKAB. Of special interest is how these actors coordinate their different activities regarding health and safety. An improved coordination is regarded as a key to reduce the accident risks for the external suppliers at LKAB. The project aims at giving a base for developing such solutions.

Research questions

The following basic research questions have been formulated and will hopefully be answered in the project:
• Are external suppliers overrepresented in accident statistics ?
• How are work environment management activities coordinated today between LKAB and external suppliers?
• What deficits and development opportunities are there in the present work environment management systems?
• How can the effectiveness of the work environment management systems be improved?

The project also aims at providing support for improvments based on results from the analysis.

Research work

The project is a collaboration project between LKAB and Luleå University of Technology and will be performed in close cooperation with actual stakeholders. The research is based on two main areas: A) Safety and Work Environment and B) Flexibility and productivity.

Under the theme of Safety and Work Environment an extensive survey study will be conducted with managers and employees at the companies. Registry studies and in-depth interviews with individuals affected by serious accidents in the past five years will also be done. Additional data will be collected through document studies, observations at work places and follow-up interviews.

Under the theme of Flexibility and Productivity, effects of external assistance will be examined from different perspectives, primarily through interviews with key persons in LKAB and participating companies. Here, it's mainly about getting a clearer picture of how such flexibility, productivity and coordination has been affected by the recent developments in labor supply.

Development work

The research project also aims to develop proposals on how the companies can improve the efficiency of their work environment management system. Here the idea is to support drafting groups that will, on the basis of analysis results, gradually suggest and anchor the suitable solutions during the project. Proposed solutions will also highlight how new technology can reduce or prevent risks and consequences of accidents.

Contact persons

Project manager is Associate Professor Bo Johansson and Magnus Nygren, PhD, will carry out most of the project work, both at Luleå University of Technology, Dep. Of Work Sciences. The contact person at LKAB is Henrik Magnusson, business developer in occupational health.