OSH system at national level - Finland

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Kirsi Koskela, Riitta Sauni, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland

Occupational safety and health legislative framework

In Finland, public administration is required by the law to protect the labour force [1]. The European framework Council Directive 89/391/EEC [2] is transposed into Finnish law by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002) [3] and the Act on Occupational Health Services (1383/2001) [4].

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002)[3] applies to all paid employment and stipulates the minimum level of safety and health at work. The Act also describes the responsibilities of employers and employees, and the co-operation of employers and employees required to promote occupational safety and health.

The Occupational Health Care Act (1383/2001) [4] applies to all employment under which the employer is bound by the Occupational Safety and Health Act [3]. The Occupational Health Care Act [4] requires employers to organize and pay for the preventive services for all employees regardless of the size, form of the organization of enterprise or industrial sector covering both public and private sectors. However, organization of occupational health care servises is voluntary for self-employed persons and entrepreneurs. Employers may organize occupational health services themselves or through municipal health care centres or private service providers. According to the Act [4] the content of occupational health services is primarily preventive. The organization of curative services, such as medical treatment of diseases and general preventive health services, is voluntary. Each employer is required to describe the organization and content of the services in a company-wide plan.

Main legislative Acts:

  • The Finnish Constitution (731/1999)[1];
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002)[3];
  • The Occupational Health Care Act (1383/2001)[4];
  • The Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces (44/2006)[5];
  • Government Decree on the principles of good occupational health care practice, the content of occupational health care and the qualifications of professionals and experts (708/2013)[6];
  • Government Decree on medical examinations in work that presents a special risk of illness (1485/2001)[7].


National strategy and programmes

In Finland, the principle national strategies on occupational health and safety are drawn up by the Department for Occupational Safety and Health of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö; Social- och hälsovårdministeriet)[8] in cooperation with other ministerial departments and the Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorates. The government currently in power lays down the strategy and plans the actions to be taken by the ministries in the Government Programme[9].

Health, safety and well-being are important common values, which are put into practice in every workplace and for every employee. The activities of a workplace are guided by a common idea of good work and a good workplace: Good work: fair treatment of employees, adoption of common values, mutual trust, genuine cooperation and equality in the workplace. Good workplace: productive and profitable, healthy, safe and pleasant, meaningful, interesting, compatible with private life, good management and leadership.

Targets for 2020 compared to the situation at 2010:

  • The number of occupational diseases decreases by 10%
  • The frequency of workplace accidents is reduced by 25%
  • Perceived physical strain is reduced by 20%
  • Perceived psychic strain is reduced by 20%.
  • Extending employees’ lifelong time at work by three years until the year 2020.

The strategy "Policies for the working environment and wellbeing at work until 2020" defines the objectives, Focus areas and principles of developing the activity in the next few years. Six focus areas or actions of occupational safety and health have been developed:

  1. leadership, the corner stone of well-being at work
  2. occupational health care, an efficient partner
  3. knowledge, will and competence through cooperation
  4. effectiveness through communication
  5. good legislation, the foundation for the minimum level of working conditions
  6. competent occupational safety and health administration ensures enforcement of legislation

The main aim of the OSH Strategy is to create good work environments and well-being presupposes that people in the workplaces have adequate and proper knowledge, will and competence needed for reaching the goals. Improving well-being at work ultimately depends on the actions taken in the workplace. The first step in fulfilling the vision and reaching the objectives is that the workplaces meet the minimum requirements of legislation and get the basic conditions in order. The regional occupational safety and health administration is responsible for supervising that employers fulfil their statutory obligations.[10]


The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has set a goal to extend employees’ lifelong time at work by three years until the year 2020. Several actions are needed to reach this goal [11][12][13][14]

Currently, the main national programmes in the OSH field are:

  • Policies for the working environment and wellbeing at work until 2020[15]
  • Strategy for social and health policy: Socially Sustainable Finland 2020[16]
  • The Strategy for the development of working life up until 2020[17]
  • Strategy from the National Institute for Health and Welfare[18]
  • National working Life Development Strategy 2020[19]
  • Government Resolution Occupational Health 2025 – work ability and health through co-operation[20]

According to the government resolution[20] the main guidelines for developing occupational health services are: 1. Customer-centered occupational health services, 2. Health and work ability for all working age people through co-operation, and 3. Developing the services, resources and compensation system of occupational health services. The customer groups that are in special focus are small enterprises, entrepreneurs, vulnerable groups and those working in changing environments. The coordinative role of occupational health services in the care and rehabilitation processes of working age people is being emphasized.

The Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, which acts in connection with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and in which the labour market parties are represented, participates in the evaluation of the follow-up reports.

Social dialogue

According to an Eurofound study on Working conditions and Social Dialogue in Finland [21], the Finnish social dialogue concerning working conditions is a natural part of the activities of the social partners. Finland has a long tradition of systematically agreeing national income policies, which has also significantly influenced the social dialogue on OSH matters. The Finnish dialogue is characterized by openness in discussing and handling disagreements, but also by the foal of identifying some kind of common ground between the social partners.

The Finnish work life is based on the principle of tripartite collaboration between the government, the employers and the employees. All the key policies related to work life, occupational safety and health, social security and the labour market are negotiated collectively between the three partners (government, employers and trade unions) and agreements are signed on a consensual basis.

Policy Advisory Committees have representations from all the relevant administrative sectors, i.e. employers and trade unions, professional associations and other non-governmental organizations (NGO). The Advisory Committees are legislation-based and they have a recognized official status. The Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health is located within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It is appointed by the Government Council. The members of the Committee are appointed to represent the most significant organizations of the social partners as well as other important stakeholders in the development of OSH [22].


Social dialogue at national level

At the national level the coordination of policies and activities takes place in ministerial groups (government level). The ministers of neighbouring sectors are expected to coordinate their policies:

  1. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health[8] acts in conjunction with the Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health in which the labour market parties are represented. All the key policies related to occupational safety and health are negotiated collectively between the three partners (Government, Employers and Trade Unions). The agreements are usually signed on a consensual basis.
  2. There are also other Advisory Committees relevant to OSH in the Finnish Government Administration, e.g. the Advisory Committee on Occupational Health Services, which is located within the Health Administration of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health[8].

The social partners include:

  1. The Confederation of Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK; Finlands Näringsliv) is the leading business organization in Finland. It represents the entire private sector, both industry and services, and companies of all sizes [23].
  2. The Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kuntatyönantajat, KT; Kommunararbetsgivarna) serves as the employers’ federation and national confederation for the local government sector, negotiating collective agreements for local government officials on behalf of local authorities and local government federations [24].
  3. The State Employer's Office (Valtion työmarkkinalaitos, VTML; Statens arbetsmarknadsverk) undertakes collective agreements for employees and civil servants employed by the state [25].
  4. The Labour Market Organisation of the Church (Kirkon Työmarkkinalaitos, KiT; Kyrkans arbetsmarknandsverk) serves as the employer’s representative in concluding collective agreements on behalf of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church and its parishes and parish federations, and also represents the ecclesiastical employer in labour market policy lobbying [26].
  5. The central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK; Finlands Fackförbunds Centralorganisation, FFC) is a confederation of 20 trade unions in industry, the public sector, transport and private services [27].
  6. The Finnish Confederation of Professionals (Toimihenkilökeskusjärjestö, STTK; Tjänstemanncentralorganisationen) is one of the three trade union confederations in Finland [28].
  7. The Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals (Akateemisten keskusjärjestö, AKAVA; Centralorganisationen för högutbildade i Finland) is a trade union confederation and represents employees with university-level, professional or other high-level training [29].

Social dialogue at sectoral level

In Finland there are four sector groups (Industrial Group, Transport and Logistics Group, Private Service Sector Group and Local Public Sector Group) and 21 Safety Branch Committees in which different branches act in co-operation with the Centre for Occupational Safety (Työturvallisuuskeskus, TTK; Arbetarskyddscentralen)[30]. The sector groups and the occupational safety committees carry out campaigns and plan publishing activities and training courses. The labour market organizations are represented in the sector groups and the occupational safety committees.

Social dialogue at enterprise level

The national Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002)[3] stipulates that the employers and employees shall cooperate in improving and maintaining safety in the workplaces. OSH matters are discussed between the employer, the employees or their representatives.

The Occupational Safety and Health Committees must be organized in workplaces with 20 or more employees. The Committee represents the main forum for collaboration at the enterprise and workplace level between workers and employers on OSH issues.


OSH infrastructure

OSH infrastructure scheme

Figure 1: The OSH infrastructure in Finland


Source: Adapted by the authors from Finland's country report at NDPHS (SIHLWA)[31].

National competent bodies

OSH authorities and inspection services

In Finland the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health [32] is responsible for the preparation of OSH legislation, the enforcement and development of OSH, statutory insurance, gender equality and the development of occupational health care. This Ministry works closely with other ministries on any matters that may be related to OSH.

The Department of Health is responsible for the development of occupational health service legislation and is also formulates the national strategies for the occupational health services. The Department for Occupational Safety and Health is responsible for the development of national occupational safety and health policies, the coordination of research in occupational safety and health issues, and the efficient application of research information.

One of the main tasks of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy[33] is to smooth out difficulties in the operation of the labour market and work organization. It prepares essential labour legislation together with the labour market organizations.

The Department for Occupational Safety and Health with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health[8] is the highest Government body for OSH Administration and it supervises independent Labour Inspectorates. Finland is divided into six independent Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorates (Regional State Administrative Agencies; Aluehallintovirasto, AVI; Regionförvaltningsverket) [26]. The responsibilities and rights of the OSH authorities are described in the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces (44/2006) [5]. The Act on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (16/1993) [34] defines the tasks to be undertaken by the occupational safety and health authorities.

The Inspectorates [35] provide instructions and advice on applying the regulations on occupational safety and health matters, working conditions, employment and equality, and ensures that there is adherence to these regulations and guidelines in the workplaces.

The OSH authorities need to monitor compliance with more than 100 items of legislation. The most important of these legislative acts are the Occupational Safety and Health Act [3] and the Decrees based upon it, the Occupational Health Care Act[4], the Employment Contracts Act [36], the Working Hours Act [37], the Annual Holidays Act [38] and the Young Workers’ Protection Act [39]. The OSH authorities also investigate serious occupational accidents and major cases of occupational diseases.

The Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorates [40] supervise approximately 240,000 workplaces, in which almost 30,000 inspections are carried out annually. Another part of OSH enforcement is market surveillance. Market surveillance includes monitoring of the compliance with legislation on products on the market.

Physicians who diagnose occupational or work-related diseases are obliged by the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Workplace Safety and Health (44/2006)[5] to report these cases to the OSH inspection.

Other Occupational Safety and Health Authorities include Safety Technology Authority (Turvallisuus- ja kemikaalivirasto, TUKES; Säkerhets- och kemikalieverket)[41], Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Säteilyturvakeskus, STUK; Strålsäkerhetscentralen)[42], National Consumer Administration (Kuluttajavirasto; Konsumentverket)[43] and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Liikenteen turvallisuusvirasto, Trafi; Trafiksäkerhetsverket)[44]. OSH is supported also by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysalan lupa- ja valvontavirasto, Valvira; Tillstånds- och tillsynsverket för social- och hälsovärd)[45].

OSH services

Internal OSH services The employer is responsible for occupational safety and health measures in the workplace. The Finnish OSH policies have a sound foundation built on collaboration at the workplace level between employers, workers and other actors. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002)[3] creates the legal framework and stipulates the obligations and rights of the employers, workers and authorities with respect to safety and health at work. When defining the content and extent of OSH activities, the employer must recognize aspects of work, working conditions, and the work environment. They are responsible for:

  • Controlling hazards at their source;
  • Eliminating hazards and when this is not possible, minimizing them or substituting with less hazardous means;
  • Arranging collective safety measures – ahead of individual-based procedures;
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the health and safety measures undertaken;
  • Continuously following-up and monitoring working conditions.

The Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Workplace Safety and Health (44/2006)[5] describes the tasks, rights and obligations with respect to OSH of the employers, workers, safety managers, safety representatives of the workers, and the workplace Occupational Safety and Health Committee (OSH Committee). Each workplace has to have a safety manager who is the employer's representative in safety and health matters. There are no official requirements about the training of the safety manager. The employer appoints the safety manager or he/she may act himself/herself as a safety manager. The employer has the duty to continuously monitor the safety of the work environment, the work atmosphere and the work practices and to take necessary remedial action. Monitoring must not be based solely upon employee reports. The employer must tell the reporting employee and the OSH representative what action has been taken or will be taken in the reported matter. If the employer considers that the report does not require any action, this information should also be told to the employee to avoid confusion.

Safety representatives for the OSH Committee must be elected by the workers in all workplaces employing 10 or more persons. The safety representative represents the employees in the workplace OSH cooperation. The employees may elect a safety representative separately for the workers, salaried employees and upper white-collar employees, or a there can be a single representative representing all employees in that workplace. The safety representative has the right to access all the documents on health and safety, which the employer must maintain by law. In addition, every workplace with 20 employees or more needs to establish an OSH Committee the representation of workers, salaried employees and the employer.

External OSH services Employers may outsource occupational health care services from a (municipal) health centre or a municipal OHS company, organise the services either by themselves or in cooperation with other employers, or outsource the services from a private health care service provider (medical centre). In 2015 42% of businesses and 29% of employees used the occupational health care services of municipal health centres or municipal OHS companies. In contrast, 54% of businesses and 58% of employees used the services of private medical centres. In 2015 23% of the Finnish OHS units were municipal (health center or municipal company), 6% in-plant or joint clinics of the employers, and 52% were OHS units in private medical centres. In 2015 84% of the employed labour force in Finland was covered by occupational health care. The organization of curative services is voluntary, however 90% of workers who have occupational health services have also access to curative services.[46]

External service for technical control The duties of inspection bodies include evaluation of the deployment and operation of equipment and systems, and the assessment of the competence of individuals and organisations. The activities of these bodies are based on national legislation for each industrial sector. The clients are operators or private individuals using the services of the inspection body. Clients may in turn employ supervisors, as required under the law, to be in charge of monitoring specific work processes.

Safety Technology Authority (TUKES)[47] monitors the standard of inspection bodies’ activities through periodic assessments: (1) by monitoring the practical inspection work in connection with client control visits, (2) by monitoring the inspection body’s inspection reports, and (3) on the basis of notifications from clients and competitors. Additionally, the inspection body is required to be skilled, technically competent and independent in its work.

Finnish Accreditation Service (FINAS)[48] acts as an outside assessor of inspection bodies. Assessments are used to ensure that the inspection body meets the competence criteria. The methods of assessment are (1) accreditation or (2) issuing separate statements. The assessment procedure is related both to the approval stage and the assessment conducted during operations.

Compensation and insurance bodies

In Finland, the employer is responsible for insuring employees against occupational accidents and occupational diseases as defined by the Act on Accident Insurance (608/1948 [49]; most recent amendment 459/2015)[50]. There is a corresponding legislation for agricultural entrepreneurs (1026/1981[51]; last amendment 1274/2016 [52]). Other self-employed persons can arrange the accident insurance on a voluntary basis. The national accident insurance legislation defines the relevant compensation.

Occupational Accidents, Injuries and Diseases Act (1343/1988)[53], last amended in 2015 (459/2015)[54] defines the criteria for an occupational disease. An Occupational Disease is defined as a disease caused by physical, chemical or biological factor at work or by physical overload or poor ergonomics (e.g. repetitive strain). The related Government Ordinance (1347/1988)[55], last amended in 2015 (769/2015)[56], contains a list of typical occupational diseases and their causes.

In Finland, occupational accident insurance is offered by 12 private accident insurance companies under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The accident insurance system is financed through premiums paid by the employers. Worker´ Compensation center (Tapaturmavakuutuskeskus, TVK)[57] coordinates the statutory accident insurance. The TVK is a liaison organisation for the insurance companies. It combines statistics on occupational accidents and diseases together with their causes and consequences, and helps prevent these in the future. An occupational safety and health committee, with representatives from the labour market organisations and the insurance sector, directs TVK’s OSH activities and co-ordinates the insurance sector. In addition, TVK investigates fatal occupational injuries. These are examined by an investigation board which has representatives from the central labour market organisations, insurance companies and the Centre for Occupational Safety (Työturvallisuuskeskus, TTK; Arbetarskyddscentralen) [24].

According to Health Insurance Act (1224/2004)[58] employers are entitled to reimbursement from KELA [59] to compensate for 60% of reasonable expenses for preventive services, if the workplace has a procedure for management, follow-up and early support. The reimbursement provided for organizing voluntary curative services is 50% of reasonable expenses. KELA pays sickness allowance as compensation for loss of earnings caused by an illness after a 10 day waiting period.


Other OSH bodies

Prevention Institutes

In Finland, prevention and preventive actions[4] are included in all activities for maintaining and improving safety and health at work. Therefore there are no specific organisations handling only preventive activities, instead all OSH actors carry out preventive activities.

Professional associations

Finnish Association of Occupational Health Physicians (Suomen Työterveyslääkäriyhdistys ry., STLY; Finlands Företagsläkarförening rf.)[60] The Association (STLY) aims:

  • To promote occupational health care in all sectors of employment;
  • To improve members' professional skills and promote ethical practices;
  • To promote members' work ability and well-being;
  • To co-operate with all actors endeavouring to enhance and support Finnish occupational health care;
  • To support research on occupational health care.

The Finnish Association of Occupational Health Nurses (FAOHN) (Suomen työterveyshoitajaliitto ry., STTHL; Finlands Företagshälsovårdareförbund)[61] The goals of the Association (FAOHN) are to develop occupational health nursing as a profession, and to promote the employment of these nurses. FAOHN promotes health care services for the working population, carries out information and publishing activities, and participates in international collaboration as ways to develop occupational health.

Association of Finnish Physiotherapists in Occupational Health ((Työfysioterapeutit ry.; Finlands Företagsfysioterapeuter)[62] The Association aims:

  • To support physiotherapists working in the occupational health care sector and to enhance their professional skills;
  • To communicate issues related to professional expertise;
  • Collaboration between research centres and educational institutes;
  • Inter-professional collaboration with other well-being service providers;
  • To follow and influence the legislation and changes in society in relation to physiotherapists’ work in occupational health.

Association of Finnish Safety Managers (Työsujelupääliköt ry., Finnsafe) [63] Finnsafe aims to:

  • Promote workplace safety and wellbeing, and improve the working environment;
  • Increase its members’ knowledge about workplace safety, wellbeing and the working environment;
  • Provide its members in Finland and abroad with relevant information on the subject;
  • Create training and educational opportunities for its members;
  • Act as a professional organization and to represent its members, i.e. by issuing statements on relevant issues.

Finnish Occupational Hygiene Society (FOHS) (Suomen Työhygienian seura; STSH)[64] FOHS improves the level of knowledge and professional skills of individuals working in the field of the occupational hygiene.

Finnish Ergophthalmological Society (Suomen Työnäköseura ry.)[65] The Society aims to promote and bring into practice research on ophthalmology at work and to increase and deliver knowledge on ergophtalmology in co-operation with other stakeholders.

Education and training and awareness raising

Legally required training for OSH specialists

The training of occupational health and safety professionals and experts in Finland is regulated by a Government Decree (708/2013) [66].

A full-time (more than 20 hours a week) occupational physician should be a specialist in occupational health care. The basic training for physicians takes six years, and the specialization studies for occupational health physician requires an additional six years. The requirements to act as a specialising physician are covered by the separate provisions in the Decree of the qualifications of specialist physicians (56/2015)[67]. A licensed physician working part-time (less than 20 hours a week) in occupational health care (OHC) must have taken a minimum fifteen credits (ECTS) in OHC studies within two years of transferring to OHC.

A licensed public health nurse working full-time in OHC needs to be a qualified public health nurse and either have passed the specialist studies in occupational health care at a polytechnic or taken a minimum of fifteen credits (ECTS) in OHC studies within two years of transferring to OHC.

A licensed physiotherapist working in OHC needs to be qualified as a licensed physiotherapist and either have passed the specialist studies in OHC at a polytechnic or taken a minimum fifteen credits (ECTS) in OHC studies within two years of starting the OHCt activities.

A licensed psychologist working in OHC shall be qualified as licensed psychologist and have passed the specialist studies in OHC at a polytechnic or a minimum of fifteen credits (ECTS) in OHC studies within two years of starting the expert activities.

The other experts, i.e. occupational hygienist, expert in social work, technical expert, agricultural advisor, optician, dietician, speech therapist, physical educator, etc. working in OHC need to have the relevant university degree in occupational hygiene, social work, a technical subject, agriculture, occupational vision, nutrition, speech therapy or physical education, or the equivalent earlier vocational qualification in the field, and sufficient knowledge of OHC. In effect, this means a minimum of two credits (ECTS) of supplementary training in OHC in accordance with the instructions provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

According to the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces (44/2006)[5] the occupational safety and health manager needs to be adequately qualified on the nature of the workplace, the work conditions,and the OSH provisions but no specific formal training is required. In the Finnish OHS legislation there is a requirement that the safety manager must be “sufficiently competent”. In legislation there is no description about how one acquires this competence. There is no formal description, e.g. there are no detailed requirements concerning the length and the content the necessary training of safety managers.

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health offers 4-week training courses to safety managers which cover the necessary topics to fulfil the fields of competency. These fields are:

  • targets of OHS at workplace;
  • OHS legislation and agreements;
  • tasks and duties and responsibilities in the workplace;
  • OHS cooperation in the workplace;
  • information sources, research and advisory bodies;
  • accident prevention;
  • preventive methods;
  • working ability and well-being;
  • ergonomics;
  • work hygiene; physical and chemical agents in the workplace;
  • psycho-social work environment;
  • safety management, quality.

Teaching methods are multidisciplinary and participants must perform many tasks and exercises. The participants must pass an examination at the end of course after which, they will receive a certification.

The occupational safety and health representative and the vice-representative (elected by the workers) need to receive appropriate training for carrying out their co-operational duties. Prior experience and any earlier training in OSH matters are taken into account when planning the training. This training covers provisions and instructions on OSH, as well as other matters within the representatives' duties such as evaluation of working conditions and planning preventive OSH actions. The curriculum is planned by the organizers of the training courses (for instance FIOH[68], Centre for Occupational safety [69], MIF [70], Pohto [71]). In the legislation there is a statement that safety representatives must have a “appropriate training according their occupational safety tasks”. The length of that training varies between 3-5 days and covers many topics such as

  • tasks and duties of safety representative
  • OHS cooperation at workplace
  • aims of OHS
  • working conditions and health
  • OHS legislation
  • occupational health care
  • OHS prevention methods.

The employer and the representatives are required to evaluate the need for training and to undertake the arrangements within two months of the election. The training needs to be free of any costs and not to involve any loss of income to the representatives.

Other vocational training

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) (Työterveyslaitos, TTL; Arbetshälsöinstitutet) [68] and the Centre for Occupational Safety (Työturvallisuuskeskus, TTK; Arbetarskyddscentralen) [24] offer basic and advanced courses in occupational safety and health for safety managers and safety representatives.

The Trade Unions' Central Organizations and individual Trade Unions, as well as the Trade Unions of Salaried Employees [72] and the Confederation of Unions of Academic Professionals [73] have an agreement with the Private Employers, Governmental Employers and the Municipal Employers about training in OSH. The training institutes of the Trade Unions provide three types of OSH courses: basic courses in OSH, advanced courses, and complementary courses. The training is targeted mainly at the safety and health representatives and their substitutes, as well as at the members of Occupational Safety and Health Committees.

The Management Institute of Finland, MIF [74] (established in July 2012) provide courses in OSH for technical personnel and for managers and supervisors. The Institute also provides services for organizational development and for leadership development. Pohto [75] is a training and development centre which organizes a variety of courses including training in occupational safety and health matters.

A large number of institutions provide Occupational Safety Card Training [76] which provides basic information on occupational health and safety. The "Card" is operated by the Centre for Occupational Safety [77]. It is awarded after a one-day introductory training session on safety and health, and it is granted for a five-year period to the an employee. The Card is designed especially for workers at certain worksites, for example large construction sites, that are shared by several enterprises and different employers operating in the same site.

Awareness raising networks

Four organizations have a special mission to promote the dissemination of information in the field of occupational safety and health:

  1. The Department for Occupational Safety and Health within the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health [78];
  2. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health[68];
  3. The Centre for Occupational Safety [79];
  4. The Finnish Work Environment Fund [80].

The Department of Occupational Safety and Health hosts the Focal Point of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work [81]. The Focal Point coordinates the national activities of the occupational health and safety network.

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH)[68] disseminates information through several channels: Web service covers multidisciplinary topics such as safety, work ability, occupational health services, ergonomics, mental health at work, chemical safety, etc.

The FIOH publishes over 200 scientific publications and over 100 popular publications  each year, and it also publishes of its own web journal Työpiste. The Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health (SJWEH) is published together with other Nordic OSH organisations, although the editorial office is situated wihtin the FIOH premises.

The Centre for Occupational Safety [24] produces and disseminates information and knowledge about improving working conditions. The Centre is an office organized by the central labour market organisations, and it acts in close co-operation with the employer and employee organisations in the manufacturing industries, service sector and municipalities representing the different fields of activities. Its modes of operation are training, services for workplaces, publications, information, advice and information service, and it also maintains a personnel register on about 65,000 persons with occupational safety and health duties and in occupational health care services (both in private and municipal workplaces). The operations of the Centre are funded by grants from the Work Environment Fund [62] and its own income from the training and information services.

The Finnish Work Environment Fund (Työsuojelurahasto, TSR; Arbetarskyddsfonden)[82] funds research and development of work, which improves the working conditions and promotes the safety and productivity aspects of workplace activities. The Fund also supports the practical application of the results of these research activities.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (MEE)[83] is developing working life through legislation, various projects, programmes, studies and analyses, and by improving working practices. Aim is to boost productivity and improve the quality of working life at the same time. Development of the quality of work promotes meaningfulness and motivation at work as well as job involvement and work productivity. MEE’s financing for working life development is channelled via the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes).

Networks, forums and information:

  • National Working Life Development Strategy to 2020 [81] aims to improve the employment rate, quality of working life, well-being at work and work productivity. To implement the strategy one shall launch a broad national co-operation project to workplaces. Strategy was prepared in a broad cooperation with relevant actors under the coordination of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
  • The Network on Well-being at Work for Finnish Workplaces[84] is a regional level meeting place for workplaces. It is coordinated by Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. It is based on Forum for Well-being at Work (2008-2015)[85]
  • A national Zero Accident Forum (Nolla tapaturmaa -foorumi)[86] coordinated by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The goal is to share knowledge, experiences and good practices with the aim to eliminating all preventable accidents.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)[87] The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is responsible for the CSR in the Government.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Työsuojeluhallinto; Arbertarskyddsförvaltningen)[88] has its own website for distributing practical information on inspection issues and common overviews and interpretations of OSH legislation.

The employers' organizations and the trade unions provide information about OSH not only to their own member organizations but also to individuals.

Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions

Research institutes

The research on occupational safety and health has a recognized position in the national research policy. Most of the research on OSH is carried out by the Governmental Research Institutes. The key research institutions relevant for OSH include:

  1. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, FIOH [68]; The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) is a public expert organization in the field of occupational safety and health and it is supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The Ministry’s coordinates the preparation of the agreement about the Institute’s performance targets. The Institute is a research and advisory organisation which carries out a wide variety of hazard and risk assessment activities and develops general risk assessment methods and practices. The research focuses on transforming of occupational health services, supporting work ability and working careers, in SME’s and growth and digitalization. Business activities of the institute comprise of occupational medicine clinic, healthy workspaces consultations, work environment laboratories, occupational hygiene consultations and solutions for safety (protective devices).
  2. The Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT [89]; VTT is an independent expert organisation providing comprehensive technology and research services for both domestic and international clients, private companies and the public sector. Research and development intended to promote occupational safety and health is often carried out as a part of other technological development aimed at higher competitiveness, productivity and quality. VTT carries out activities in areas such as hazard identification and risk assessment. The VTT operates under the Ministry of the Employment and the Economy[33].
  3. The Safety technology Authority, TUKES [90]; The Safety Technology Authority (TUKES) is subordinate to the Ministry for the Employment and the Economy[33] and acts as the supervisor, developer and expert organization in the realm of technical safety and reliability. The Authority is divided into three groups: Product Safety Enforcement, Plant and Installations Surveillance, and R&D and Support Services. TUKES operates within the fields of chemical and process industry, electrical safety, pressure equipment safety, rescue service equipment, activities involving precious metals, construction products, and legal metrology. All these activities utilize risk assessment methodologies, which they also develop for their practical purposes. In addition to itse supervisory tasks, TUKES participates in national and international co-operation, development of legislation, and different research and development projects. It also actively distributes information on technical safety and reliability.
  4. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland, STUK [91]; STUK is the authority and expert organisation that supervises radiation and nuclear safety. It monitors and assesses risks to health and safety from all sources and all types of radiation. Both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation are covered by STUK activities. STUK provides instructions on safety and provides training for employees using radiation.

The Legislation contains provisions about the monitoring and maximum values of employees’ exposure to radiation, and on their health controls. The information on exposure is registered in a dose register maintained by STUK. STUK sets the national measurement norms and provides national for its cliente services in radiation dose measurements, radioactivity counts and other expert services. Part of STUK’s operations involve research, radiation control in the environment and emergency readiness procedures.

  1. The National Product Control Agency for Welfare and Health, Valvira [36]; The activities of the National Product Control Agency for Welfare and Health are intended to prevent and control health hazards caused by chemicals and pesticides to humans, and to promote the development of a good living environment. The Agency monitors compliance with regulations on chemical substances and preparations and the introduction of these products onto the market. It maintains a register of products and material data sheets. The product register contains data on chemicals available on the Finnish market which are classified as dangerous or which may pose a hazard. Valvira is supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health[8] and it co-operates also with the Finnish Environment Institute [92], the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira)[93] and The Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea)[94].
  2. The National Consumer Administration [34] (Kuluttajavirasto; Konsumentverket); The National Consumer Administration is responsible for the safety of consumer goods and services functioning in co-operation with the State Provincial Offices and the municipal health inspectors. Market surveillance carried out through spot checks to ensure that consumer goods and services are safe. These surveillance methods include studies on the safety of products, testing samples from market surveillance with the Customs Laboratory, dealing with complaints and notifications and market surveillance projects with the municipal supervisory authorities. One of the main product groups which it supervises is personal protective equipment (PPE). OSH research in specific areas is also carried out in universities in areas in which they have research interests and competence, e.g. 1) Tampere University of technology [95], 2) University of Eastern Finland [96], 3) University of Oulu [97], 4) Aalto University [98], 5) Lappeenranta University of Technology [99], 6) Work Research Centre at the University of Tampere [100], and 7) The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research [101].

Standardization bodies

The Finnish Standards Association (Suomen Standardoimisliitto SFS ry.)[102] is the central body for standardisation in Finland. Its membership includes the central government and professional, commercial and industrial organisations. The Association approves national SFS standards and coordinates national standardisation. National Standards are sold in Finland exclusively by SFS. Standardization is carried out at international, regional, national and company levels. The Association also manages the Nordic and European environmental labelling systems for products and services.

SFS promotes the use of standards in Finland by disseminating information on international, foreign and Finnish standards and drafts. SFS is the Finnish source for all international standards and drafts of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), for European standards and drafts of CEN, and for publications of ISO member bodies. SFS also distributes other foreign standards and technical regulations.

The WTO (World Trade Organization) Enquiry Point [103] in Finland is operated within SFS under the mandate of the Ministry of the Employment and the Economy[33].


Institutions and organisations

Table 1: Key OSH actors in Finland
Key actors in the Finnish OSH dialogue The Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health in the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö; Social- och hälsovårdministeriet) [101]
Key social partners in the Finnish OSH field Confederation of Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK; Finlands Näringsliv) [102]
The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK; Finlands Fackförbunds Centralorganisation, FFC) [103]
The Finnish Confederation of Professionals (Toimihenkilökeskusjärjestö, STTK; Tjänstemanncentralorganisationen) [104]
The Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals (Akateemisten keskusjärjestö, AKAVA; Centralorganisationen för högutbildade i Finland) [105]
The Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kuntatyönantajat, KT; Kommunararbetsgivarna) [106]
The State Employer's Office (Valtion työmarkkinalaitos, VTML; Statens arbetsmarknadsverk) [107]
The Labour Market Organisation of the Church (Kirkon Työmarkkinalaitos, KiT; Kyrkans arbetsmarknandsverk) [108]
Federal OSH Authorities and inspection services Ministry for Social Affairs and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö; Social- och hälsovårdministeriet) [109]
Ministry for Employment and the Economy (Työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö; Arbets och näringsministeriet) [110]
Safety Technology Authority (Turvallisuus- ja kemikaalivirasto, TUKES; Säkerhets- och kemikalieverket) [111]
The Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT ) [112]
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Säteilyturvakeskus, STUK; Strålsäkerhetscentralen) [113]
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysalan lupa- ja valvontavirasto, Valvira; Tillstånds- och tillsynsverket för social- och hälsovärd) [114]
National Consumer Administration (Kuluttajavirasto; Konsumentverket) [115]
The Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Liikenteen turvallisuusvirasto, Trafi; Trafiksäkerthetsverket). [116]
Regional State Administrative Agencies (Aluehallintovirasto, AVI; Regionförvaltningsverket) [117]
Key compensation and insurance bodies The Federation of Accident Insurance Institutions (Tapaturmavakuutuslaitosten liitto, TVL; Olycksfallsförsäkringsanstalternas förbund (OFF)) [118]
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kansaneläkelaitos, KELA; Folkpensionsanstalten) [119]
Key professional associations Finnish Association of Occupational Health Physicians (Suomen Työterveyslääkäri yhdistys ry., STLY; Finlands Företagsläkarförening rf.) [120]
The Finnish Association of Occupational Health Nurses

(Suomen työterveyshoitajaliitto ry., STTHL; Finlands Företagshälsovårdareförbund)

[121]
Association of Finnish Physiotherapists in Occupational Health (Työfysioterapeutit ry.; Finlands Företagsfysioterapeuter) [122]
Association of Finnish Safety Managers (Työsuojelupääliköt ry., Finnsafe) [123]
Finnish Occupational Hygiene Society (Suomen Työhygienia Seura, STHS) [124]
Finnish Ergophthalmological Society (Suomen Työnäköseura ry.) [125]
Key research institutes Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, FIOH) (Työterveyslaitos, TTL; Arbetshälsöinstitutet) [126]
Safety Technology Authority (Turvallisuus- ja kemikaalivirasto, TUKES; Säkerhets- och kemikalieverket) [127]
The Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) [128]
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Säteilyturvakeskus, STUK; Strålsäkerhetscentralen) [129]
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysalan lupa- ja valvontavirasto, Valvira; Tillstånds- och tillsynsverket för social- och hälsovärd) [130]
National Consumer Administration (Kuluttajavirasto; Konsumentverket) [131]
Tampere University of Technology (Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto) [132]
University of Eastern Finland (Itä-Suomen yliopisto) [133]
University of Oulu (Oulun yliopisto) [134]
Aalto University (Aalto-yliopisto; Aalto-Universitetet) [135]
Lappeenranta University of Technology (Lappeenrannan teknillinen yliopisto) [136]
Work Research Centre at the University of Tampere (Työelämän tutkimuskeskus) [137]
The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research (UKK-instituutti) [138]

Source: Overview by the authors


References

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  36. The Employment contracts act, 55/2001. Available at: [34]
  37. The Working hours act, 605/1996. Available at: [35]
  38. The Annual holidays act, 162/2005. Available at: [36]
  39. The Young worker's protection act, (998/1993). Available at: [37]
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  42. Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Säteilyturvakeskus, STUK; no publishing date). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [40]
  43. National Consumer Administration (Kuluttajavirasto; no publishing date). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [41]
  44. The Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi; 11.3.2011). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [42]
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  52. Laki maatalousyrittäjän työtapaturma- ja ammattitautilain muuttamisesta, 1274/2016. Available at: [49]
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  61. The Finnish Association of Occupational Health Nurses, home page (no publishing date available). Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [58]
  62. Association of Finnish Physiotherapists in Occupational Health, home page (no publishing date available). Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [59]
  63. Association of Finnish Safety Managers, home page (no publishing date available). Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [60]([In Finnish)
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  65. Finnish Ergophthalmological Society, home page (no publishing data available). Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [62] [In Finnish)
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  69. Centre for Occupational Safety (no publishing date). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [66]
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  79. Centre for Occupational Safety (no publishing date). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [76]
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  97. University of Oulu (no publishing date). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [94]
  98. Aalto University (25.05.2012). Home page. Retrieved on 28 May 2012, from: [95]
  99. Lappeenranta University of Technology (no publishing date). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [96]
  100. Work Research Centre at the University of Tampere (09.05.2011). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [97]
  101. The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research (18.11.2011). Home page. Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [98]
  102. The Finnish Standards Association (SFS), home page (no publishing date available). Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [99]
  103. The WTO (World Trade Organization) Enquiry Point, home page (no publishing date available). Retrieved on 16 May 2012, from: [100]


Links for future reading