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Health and safety at work

In Finland, occupational safety is very important. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the work does not endanger the safety or health of employees. Employees themselves must also make sure to do their work safely and follow the work instructions.

Safety at work

The workplace must be safe and healthy. Ensuring this is the responsibility of the employer and supervisors. This is enshrined in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (työturvallisuuslaki).

Your health or safety might be at risk from, for example, noise, dust, mould, cold or heat, radiation, unsafe machinery or poor ergonomics.

The employer must also insure you for accidents and occupational diseases. For example, if you are injured at work or on your way to work, the insurance may cover your medical expenses and loss of earnings.

If you fall ill or are in an accident, read the instructions on the InfoFinland page Occupational health and illness.

Link redirects to another websiteThe Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK

Safety at work

Occupational safety and health activities at the workplace

When you start a new job, the employer must familiarise you with your new tasks. Your employer must also familiarise you with the safety instructions of the workplace and teach you correct working methods. This is enshrined in law.

You must be given information on, for example,

  • your work and place of work,
  • common instructions for the workplace,
  • operating the machinery and equipment,
  • the use of personal protective equipment,
  • how to work safely, and
  • the hazards and risks associated with the work.

Always follow the instructions given by your employer. Your employer is responsible for monitoring that you follow them. For example, you must use the protective or safety equipment that your employer orders you to use.

These may include

  • a hard hat, safety shoes and high-visibility clothing if you work at a construction site, and
  • a respirator, protective gloves and goggles if you work with chemicals.

The employer must pay for the safety equipment that you need for work.

Workplaces must have a sufficient number of persons with first aid skills and first aid equipment, and instructions must be provided on what to do in emergencies. Employers organise first aid training for their staff at work.

If a workplace has ten or more employees, the employees elect an occupational safety and health representative (työsuojeluvaltuutettu) to represent them. Occupational safety and health representatives familiarise themselves with the work safety issues that are relevant for the workplace, participate in workplace safety inspections and inform employees of matters relating to the safety and health of the work.

For each workplace, the employer nominates a head of occupational health and safety (työsuojelupäällikkö), who assists the employer in cooperation with the employees and occupational safety and health authorities (työsuojeluviranomainen).

Hazards at the workplace

Notify your supervisor or occupational safety representative immediately if you notice a hazard at your workplace, such as a dangerous work method, a broken tool or inadequate personal protective equipment. You can also suggest a safer way of doing the work.

If a work task is extremely dangerous and poses an immediate threat to your life or health, you have the right to refuse to do it until the danger is eliminated.

If your supervisor does not react to the reported danger, call the telephone service of the occupational safety and health authorities.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Problems in working life.

Health and safety authorities

In Finland, the tasks of the occupational health and safety authorities (työsuojeluviranomainen) are carried out by the occupational health and safety divisions of the Regional State Administrative Agencies (aluehallintovirasto, AVI). The occupational safety and health authorities supervise that employers comply with the regulations on occupational safety and health.

The occupational safety and health authorities provide guidance for both employees and employers on occupational safety and health, as well as in matters related to terms of employment. You can also ask the occupational safety and health authority for help if you experience harassment or discrimination at the workplace. The occupational safety and health authorities can help if your employer fails to give you, for example, a written employment contract, payslip, list of hours worked or certificate of employment.

Labour inspectors conduct inspections at workplaces. They inspect whether safety regulations are being observed at the workplace, employees are given a sufficient induction and the working conditions and terms of employment of employees who have moved to Finland comply with Finnish laws and agreements.

A labour inspector has a right to access every workplace and to view documents that are necessary for supervision of occupational health and safety. The occupational health and safety authorities can require an employer to fix any deficiencies discovered in the occupational safety and health of a workplace.