Safety and health in the workplace
Instruction and guidance
The Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act obligates employers to familiarise their employees with any new jobs that are given to them before they start and to train their employees to use new work equipment and follow new procedures and production methods before they are introduced. Orientation of new members of staff when they start work and training and guidance thereafter are especially important for preventing the risks posed by work to employees’ health and safety. It is the employer’s duty to ensure that their employees follow the instructions given and to intervene in improper practices.
Employers must familiarise their employees with the working conditions and the procedures followed in the workplace. Orientation is especially important in the case of new employees and whenever changes are introduced.
Employees also need instructions and guidance. The aim is to ensure that all employees have the competence required to work safely. Guidance can be deemed to be sufficient when employees know how to do their work properly and in accordance with the correct procedures.
Both the orientation of new employees and subsequent training and guidance must factor in employees’ existing professional qualifications, competence and previous work experience. More instruction and guidance must be provided whenever weaknesses are identified in an employee’s way of working and whenever changes are introduced.
Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers also have a duty to continuously monitor the safety of their employees’ procedures and intervene if an employee is seen not following instructions.
Content of advice and guidance
The instruction and guidance given to employees must cover the following:
- Employees must be familiarised with their work, the working conditions, procedures and production methods employed in the workplace, the work equipment, the safe use of tools, and safe practices. Orientation is especially important before an employee starts in a new role or when their job description changes as well as whenever new work equipment, procedures or production methods are introduced.
- Employees must be given training and guidance to protect them from the harmful effects of work and hazards in the workplace as well as to prevent risks to their safety or health.
- Employees must be trained to adjust, clean, service and repair systems and to react correctly to faults and other malfunctions.
- The work environment and employees’ health and procedures must be monitored continuously, and more instruction and guidance must be provided as required.
Competence to perform high-risk work
Risk assessment and analysis can help employers to identify jobs that pose a particularly high risk of injury or illness. In such circumstances, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that only employees who are competent and suited for such jobs perform such work. Moreover, unauthorised entry into the danger zone must be prevented while high-risk work is in progress.
Employees who do not have the necessary qualifications can nevertheless also perform high-risk work as long as they are closely supervised by a competent employee. Competence is determined by the employer. The qualifications required for some jobs are laid down in law.
Some jobs require specific professional qualifications. Examples include electrical engineering, the use of explosives and underwater work as well as health care. Mobile and tower crane operators also need to be qualified for the job.
Competence is demonstrated by a certificate, such as a licence or a degree. Even these kinds of employees nevertheless need to be familiarised with the risks involved in their work, risk factors in the workplace and ways to avoid them.