Occupational health and safety is about safety management and collaboration conducted at every workplace. The employer is responsible for health and safety at the workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2003) states that work cannot pose a risk to one’s health. To ensure this does not happen, an employer must:
- identify and assess the hazards involved in various tasks
- monitor the working conditions
- take action to reduce risks and improve working conditions
Workplace safety can be improved by working together with staff. Employees must comply with the instructions and rules provided by their employer and avoid inappropriate behaviour. All employees are required to report any faults and defects to their supervisor and the occupational health and safety representative or the occupational health and safety manager.
In addition to the general provisions, the Act includes more detailed provisions regarding work and working conditions, including:
- ergonomics; physical, psychological and social load; and certain work-related hazards
- the structures of the workplace and work environment
- chemical, physical and biological factors and the use of dangerous substances
- the safety of working with machines, tools and other equipment
- accident prevention, evacuation and first aid
- staff facilities
Cooperation on occupational health and safety is governed by the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces (44/2006). Based on this Act, a cooperation agreement on occupational health and safety, which concerns all government agencies, was created on 28 March 2010, and the agencies must comply with it when formulating their own cooperation agreements pertaining to health and safety.
Governmental advisory committee for working life: the roles and responsibilities in occupational health and safety > (link)
Operators in occupational safety
The aim is to promote interaction between the employer and employees and ensure that everyone can provide input when workplace health and safety is being discussed. The cooperation organisation of occupational safety is a body of experts that supports employers.
The occupational health and safety manager functions as the employer’s substitute and takes the initiative during cooperative action, unless the most senior manager of an agency or workplace is also the occupational health and safety manager.
The occupational health and safety representatives, substitute occupational health and safety representatives and occupational safety ombudsmen represent the staff and function as experts of occupational safety. They gain expertise by participating in occupational safety courses and networking with their colleagues in other organisations.
Matters pertaining to work conditions and safety should be discussed at workplaces as part of normal routines, for example during performance evaluations and workplace meetings.
Occupational health care services function as experts in matters connected to occupational health. The Occupational Health Care Act (1383/2001) and the regulations issued based on this Act define the duties of and cooperation among occupational health care providers. Statutory occupational health care includes preventive measures, such as
- a workplace evaluation, i.e. assessment of the health aspects of different roles
- health check-ups
- monitoring and supporting the work capacity of employees.
Employers can include medical care as an optional service in the occupational health care services offered to the employees. The instructions/regulations regarding the occupational health care provided for the state’s employees (link) specify the content of these services.
The state’s occupational safety cooperation group
The occupational safety cooperation group supports the networking among the state’s occupational safety staff and the further development of their work.
The group was founded in 2016 and consists of the state’s occupational health and safety managers and representatives. The group has representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the State Treasury, trade unions and the Regional State Administrative Agencies’ occupational safety sector.
The members of the group are selected via elections. Individuals working as the state’s occupational health and safety managers or representatives who are eligible to vote in the elections of their own group may stand as candidates. Information contained in the occupational health and safety personnel register is used when holding elections.
The cooperation group has 10 members, five of whom work as occupational health and safety managers and five as occupational health and safety representatives. The term of the group is two years, and the group appoints its chair and vice chair from amongst its members. The chair represents the state’s occupational health and safety personnel in the governmental advisory committee for working life.
The members of the occupational health and safety cooperation group during the term of 2018–2019 >(link)
Occupational health and safety personnel register
The state organisations submit their occupational health and safety personnel’s information to an electronic service. This service is managed by the Centre for Occupational Safety (TKK). An extract from the service can also be obtained from the occupational health and safety personnel register. Information submitted to the occupational health and safety personnel register should not be submitted to the State Treasury.
Read more on the topic on the subpage Työsuojeluhenkilörekisteri (in Finnish).
Read more about the occupational health and safety options on the subpage Koulutustarjonta (in Finnish).
The governmental advisory committee for working life
The governmental advisory committee for working life functions as part of the Ministry of Finance and has representatives from the State Treasury, the Ministry of Finance, central organisations of trade unions and government agencies, among others. The advisory committee publishes an online magazine called Uusi Kaiku (link), which functions as a meeting place for working life development.
Read more about the governmental advisory committee > (link)
The State Treasury is responsible for providing help to those staff members who are improving the working conditions in government agencies and ministries in forming networks.
Everyone who takes an active role in improving the conditions in which their workplace community or the governmental community functions is considered a working life developer. These employees include occupational health and safety officers, Kaiku developers, occupational healthcare staff, the contact people in rehabilitation services, staff coordinators and members of HR personnel – you are one of us.
The goal is to become aware of current issues, share practices found to be useful and receive peer support. The most important thing is to be visible and conduct work in your own workplace, and to form a network at your workplace with everyone who contributes to the improvement of working conditions and staff wellbeing.
Improving occupational health and safety skills
The establishment of cooperative operations in the occupational health and safety sector starts from scratch, from the improvement of occupational health and safety skills. Each workplace must agree on the acquisition of the necessary tools, such as literature, required in occupational health and safety.
Start with these
- The basic tools of an occupational health and safety representative include the Occupational Safety and Health Act, its application manual, and the publication Työsuojelun valvonta (‘Supervising Occupational Health and Safety’). Both have been published by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (link).
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Finland maintains an updated list of occupational health and safety legislation (acts currently in effect or being prepared): https://www.tyosuojelu.fi/tietoa-meista/toiminta/lainsaadanto (in Finnish) (link).
Occupational health and safety online course
The State Treasury has created an online course for the state administration’s occupational health and safety personnel, HR experts, occupational wellbeing officers and supervisors. The course can also be used as an induction for the entire occupational health and safety personnel. The course includes the basics needed in state administration, in particular.
The online course is available for the entire governmental sector in an online learning environment maintained by Valtori at www.valtiokonttori.fi/verkkokoulu (in Finnish) (link). The online course will be moved to eOppiva in the future.
The main information sources for practical occupational health and safety
Particularly useful practical tips and instructions are available on the websites of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (link), the Centre for Occupational Safety (link) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Finland (link).
In addition to the aforementioned, information and instructions especially intended for the governmental community on how to design a functional work environment and deal with problems in indoor air quality can be found on the Senate (link) website.