Worker dead after fall into vat of hot lye

A 66-year-old Swedish man died in an accident at a paper factory in western Sweden after falling into a cistern filled with hot lye late Tuesday night.

“He basically fell through the roof of the silo,” Ulf Maxén manager of the Munksjö Paper factory in Billingsfors where the accident took place, told The Local.

“The liquid was corrosive and was heated to somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees Celsius.”

The accident occurred shortly before midnight on Tuesday, according to Maxén, although the exact circumstances remain unclear.

“Some people in the area couldn’t find him and then they heard him and were able to figure out where he was,” he said.

“As to exactly what he was doing on the roof of the silo, I can’t speculate. That’s for the investigation to reveal.”

The man is believed to have fallen about 8 metres into the cistern,which contained a corrosive liquid used in the paper manufacturing process.

Emergency crews and colleagues spent the night working to gain access to and empty the vat and were finally able to recover the man’s body around 7am on Wednesday morning.

Shortly thereafter factory officials decided to shut down production at the plant.

“There’s a feeling of incredible sorrow here today,” said Maxén, adding that the man had worked at the factory for more than 20 years.

“We’re a small community here. A lot of people knew him.”

Police as well as officials from Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) have launched an investigation into the accident.

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