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Two workers die in separate incidents at Northvolt battery gigafactory

31 December 2023

Two people have died in separate incidents in the last two months at Swedish battery developer and manufacturer Northvolt’s gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden. A 25-year-old Northvolt employee died on 15 December after suffering burns from an explosion on a production line in early November. On 14 December, a man in his 60s working for construction company NCC also died at the site following an incident involving a crane.

Northvolt's gigafactory during construction - Image: Wikimedia/User: Spisen
Northvolt's gigafactory during construction - Image: Wikimedia/User: Spisen

Northvolt is a startup company specialising in lithium-ion technology for electric vehicles that was founded in 2015 by two former Tesla executives. The company is valued at around $20 billion and has raised more money than any other European startup. It recently announced a battery storage breakthrough by developing a sodium-ion cell that requires no lithium, cobalt, or nickel.

During the incident in early November, Northvolt said that the “ambitious” 25-year old technician was conducting regular maintenance when an explosion occurred. The worker suffered severe burns and later died in hospital. Northvolt said it immediately closed the production line and conducted an investigation. The company said the incident was a dust explosion in a machine and was not directly related to the battery manufacturing process. The production line has since restarted.

In the second incident on 14 December, a construction worker was killed and another was injured when a fork stand fell on them during the building of a concrete foundation for Northvolt’s factory expansion. The site was closed and cordoned off by police. The battery manufacturer said it would conduct a safety review and investigation into the incident while construction company NCC said it would also conduct its own investigation.

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