Occupational health and accidents
Occupational health care
Every employee, every entrepreneur and every self-employed person is entitled to occupational health care. By ‘self-employed’, we mean persons who are not in the employ of anyone else but run their own business.
The content of and measures taken in occupational health care, appropriate to the needs of the workplace, are jointly planned by the employer, a personnel representative and the occupational health care service provider. They also monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of the occupational health care service.
The aims of occupational health care are:
- a healthy and safe working environment,
- a well-functioning work community,
- preventing work-related illnesses, and
- maintaining and promoting employees’ work capacity and functional capacity.
The occupational safety authority performs inspections to monitor that employers have organised and provided the statutory occupational health care services.
An employer is required by law to provide preventive occupational health care even if there is only one employee. Providing medical care, on the other hand, is voluntary, but statutory occupational health care does include medical examinations due to a work-related illness.
Consult your employer to find out about at least the following matters concerning occupational health care:
- where the occupational health care agreement is available for inspection,
- what the workplace policy is concerning the use of occupational health care services (contact person, assigned occupational health care nurse and physician, your responsibilities in occupational health care matters),
- whether occupational health care is available to you outside working hours (e.g. at weekends), and
- how broad the coverage of your occupational health care plan is (statutory or also including medical care).
Occupational health care examinations monitor your health in at-risk work
Your employer is required by law to organise regular health examinations for you in occupational health care if the work you do involves special health risk factors defined in legislation (e.g. noise, flour dust or solvents) or is otherwise hazardous.
When you are about to begin work that involves a special health risk factor, you will be given a pre-employment health examination by the occupational health care service. Its purpose is to find out whether you have any deformity, injury, illness or sensitivity that:
- might get worse in your work,
- requires special protection against the hazards and harmful effects of the work, or
- means that you cannot perform the work in question at all without compromising your health.
Occupational health care provides periodical health examinations to assess whether you have been exposed to health risks at work and to determine how to support your work capacity.
If necessary, your health and work capacity will be evaluated through measurements, performance tests or laboratory tests. The occupational health care service will advise you on the health risks of your work and how to promote your own health.
Health examinations to investigate an emerging health risk
Your occupational health care service must give you a health examination when it is suspected that your work involves a health risk, for instance because of unbalanced physical loads or psychosocial overload. You yourself may request a health examination from occupational health care if there is a justifiable cause to investigate your work load.
Health examinations also help support the prevention and early identification of substance abuse and referrals to treatment or support services.
You are required to attend occupational health care health examinations booked by your employer for a justifiable cause.
Work capacity talks in the case of prolonged disability
If you are experiencing a prolonged period of disability, your employer must consult occupational health care to explore whether it is possible for you to return to work. Also, the occupational health care service must evaluate your remaining work capacity. It may be possible for you to take part-time sick leave.As an employee, you must apply for sickness allowance within two months (60 days) of the beginning of your disability, or for part-time sickness allowance within two months of the date on which you wish the benefit to start.
An employer must provide preventive occupational health care eligible for KELA compensation
An employer is required by law to provide preventive occupational health care for employees.
The employer may acquire occupational health care services from:
- occupational health care units at public health centres,
- municipal enterprises and companies providing occupational health care,
- occupational health care centres jointly operated by several employers (occupational health care associations), or
- occupational health care units at private medical centres.
The employer may also provide in-house occupational health care services.
The employer must sign a written service agreement with the occupational health care service and draw up a plan detailing how the services are to be implemented. The foundation of occupational health care is the workplace survey, which the occupational health care service performs and writes up in a report. Matters emerging in the workplace survey must be taken into account when drafting and updating the occupational health care plan.
The Social Insurance Institution (KELA) compensates the employer for necessary and reasonable costs incurred through providing occupational health care when:
- the service is provided by personnel qualified for occupational health care as required in the Occupational Health Care Act,
- the employer has a valid occupational health care service agreement, and
- the occupational health service plan is up to date and the planned functions are being implemented.
Health examinations in risk sectors and when health risks emerge
An employer is required by law to provide periodical health examinations for employees if the work being done involves a specific risk of illness or other health risks.
Your occupational health care service must give you a health examination when it is suspected that your work involves a health risk, for instance because of unbalanced physical loads or psychosocial overload.
Early intervention when work capacity is compromised
Your employer is required to monitor the work capacity of employees and, if their work capacity is compromised, provide support in early intervention together with the occupational health care service. The aim here is to restore the employee’s work capacity and to prevent disability.
The employer agrees on early intervention procedures with the occupational health care service.
The 30-60-90 rule for prolonged disability
The employer must report an employee's absence due to illness at the latest when the absence has continued for one month. The 30-day limit is cumulative in one year.
As an employee, you must apply for sickness allowance within two months (60 days) of the beginning of your disability, or for part-time sickness allowance within two months of the date on which you wish the benefit to start.
If your disability is prolonged, your employer must consult you and the occupational health care service to assess your remaining work capacity and your potential to return to work. An occupational health care physician must issue a statement concerning the employee’s remaining work capacity and potential to return to work at the latest when the employee has accumulated 90 sickness allowance days over a period of two years. The employee must submit this statement to KELA.
Part-time sickness absence
The purpose of part-time sickness absence is to support the employee remaining at work and his/her return to full-time work at his/her own initiative. A part-time employment contract may be signed on the basis of a report on the employee’s health.
Amending a part-time employment contract during the agreement period must be agreed upon separately. When the part-time employment contract expires, the employee may return to the full-time employment contract that was in force before the part-time contract.
Guidance and advice as workplace support
Providing information, guidance and advice are key statutory functions of occupational health care. Their purpose is to provide employers, employees and other actors at the workplace with information and skills concerning occupational safety and health, and further to promote the adoption of attitudes and practices conducive to occupational health at the workplace.
Voluntary health examinations and voluntary medical care
An employer may also provide pre-employment health examinations and age-related health examinations through occupational health care even if the work being done involves no special health risks as defined in legislation.
The employer may also add medical care to the occupational health care services provided. Medical care in the context of occupational health care may include GP consultations but also specialist consultations as necessary for determining the state of an employee's health. Medical care may also include laboratory tests and X-rays.
The employer may also agree with the occupational health care service provider on other health care services.
Medical care must principally be provided by the employer on an equal basis, i.e. the same services must be available to all employees.
Including medical care in occupational health care benefits the employer, because it:
- helps monitor sickness absences,
- enables early support in work capacity issues, and
- improves the ability of occupational health care to support returning to work.
Efficient medical care with a focus on occupational health care, combined with preventive occupational health care, is effective in promoting employee wellbeing at the workplace.
- Factors that cause a special risk of illness are defined in the annex
- Chapter 1 Section 1 Objectives of the Act
- Chapter 13 Reimbursements related to occupational health care services
- Chapter 15 Section 5 Application for occupational health care reimbursement