Hazardous work

Hazardous work - Alasivu

Types of work that are considered hazardous for young workers are listed in a Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Not all work may be assigned to young workers

Some job duties are considered so hazardous or harmful that there are restrictions on assigning young workers to perform them. 

Young workers aged under 16 must not be assigned to perform hazardous work. Work is considered hazardous for a young worker if it is such that in it a young worker himself/herself or, through his/her job duties, another person may be at particular risk of an accident or loss of health. The employer must consult the occupational health care service in evaluating health hazards for young workers caused by the work itself and working circumstances in especially harmful and hazardous work.

Types of work restricted from young workers are defined by decree

A Government Decree provides for the conditions under which young workers under the age of 18 may be assigned to perform work considered especially harmful or hazardous to young workers. The Decree also lists the types of particularly hazardous work to which young workers under the age of 18 may never be assigned, if stipulated requirements are not met. Types of work considered hazardous for young workers are listed in a separate Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Young workers must always be provided induction training for especially harmful and hazardous work as specified by Decree.

Especially harmful work

Under Section 3 in the Government Decree on Work Especially Harmful and Hazardous to young Workers (475/2006) the following work has been classified as especially harmful for young workers:

  1. work which causes excessive stress, in comparison with the young worker’s age and experience, or includes significant responsibility for the young worker’s own or other people’s safety, significant financial responsibility or specific hazards which young people are unable to recognise or avoid,
  2. working alone when the work involves an obvious risk of an accident or violence,
  3. caring for and managing psychiatric patients and mentally or socially disturbed people,
  4. handling and transporting dead bodies,
  5. slaughtering,
  6. diving,
  7. working in an environment which exposes the young worker to harmful toxic substances, substances that cause cancer, hereditary damage or foetal abnormalities, or substances that can have other permanent effects on a person's health,
  8. handling combustible and explosive substances and easily flammable liquids under obviously dangerous circumstances, and
  9. working in an environment exposing the young worker to harmful radiation.

Without a derogation permit, a young worker can only perform especially harmful work mentioned above, if:

  • the young worker has a vocational qualification, or
  • the young worker is attending vocational training and the work is conducted under the guidance and supervision of a teacher.

In addition, a young worker can conduct work intended under sections 3–5 without an exemption, when it is related to vocational studies or apprenticeship training, when:

  • a person with experience and professional competence constantly supervises his/her work
    • In such a case, an account of the organisation of the work and required induction training must be appended to the agreement between the employer and the provider of the training and a copy should be sent to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the relevant Regional State Administrative Agency.

Dispensation

In cases other than those mentioned above, especially harmful work requires a derogation permit which can be granted by the occupational safety and health authorities, subject to conditions specified by the authorities. A derogation permit for the whole of Finland is applied with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Eastern Finland.

Note: An advance notification regarding hazardous work shall be submitted to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the place of work. Contact information.

Hazardous work

The importance of thorough induction training is highlighted in the context of hazardous work.

Hazardous work may be assigned to a young worker aged 16 or above if adequate precautions for safety at work have been taken and the appropriate instruction and guidance have been given. The employer must ensure that the machinery, substances or working conditions to which the young worker will be exposed do not pose a special risk of accident or health hazard to the young worker himself/herself or to others.

Also, a young worker of upper-level comprehensive school age may perform hazardous work that is necessary as part of teaching, if that work is performed under the direction and immediate supervision of a teacher. It must be possible to perform the work safely. Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that the tools and protective equipment are suitable and safe for the young worker to use.

The following factors are listed as hazardous for young workers in the Decree:

  1. Mechanical hazards
    • Certain equipment poses a cutting or crushing hazard.
  1. Chemical hazards
    • Certain substances and compounds pose a chemical hazard.
  1. Physical hazards
    • Physical hazards may comprise noise, vibration from machinery, cold, heat, or unusually high or low air pressure.
  1. Electrical hazards
    • There is a particular electrical hazard involved in working on live wires or in the vicinity of exposed live components, and in the maintenance and repair of high-tension current equipment and lifts.
  1. Bodily strain
    • Bodily strain may result from heavy lifting and other work involving unequal loading.
  1. Biological hazards
    • Certain biological factors pose a specific hazard.
  1. Certain other types of work (the list of examples includes other types of hazardous work).

A more detailed list is available in the Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on the List of Work Hazardous to Young Workers (in Finnish).

Prior notice of hazardous work to the Regional State Administrative Agency and to the guardian of a person in compulsory education

Before starting or commissioning any hazardous work involving a young worker, the employer must submit an advance notification. The prior notice must be submitted to the OSH Division at the Regional State Administrative Agency of the workplace.  When the duty is associated to the young person´s vocational education and is performed under the supervision of a teacher or when the young person already has a vocational upper secondary qualification for this duty, no prior notice is needed.

The prior notice shall be submitted by the organizer of the vocational education together with the employer when the hazardous duty is performed during the vocational education, for example during a period of on-the-job-training. However, organizers of basic education have no liability to make a prior notice.

The notice to the OSH authority must be completed when the conditions affecting the safety change substantially. Moreover; the employer shall inform the guardian of a young worker about the hazardous work and the grounds for it in advance.

Notifying

Form: Notification when hiring a young person between 16 and 17 years of age for hazardous work (pdf, in Finnish)

The notification shall be made to the OSH Division relevant to the workplace. Contact information.

Induction training is important

Induction training and guidance are especially important when a young worker starts in their first job, practical training or on-the-job learning. 

The employer must ensure that the young worker has sufficient skills and competence to perform the required work safely. The young worker must know the risks related to the work and how to manage such risks. The worker must know how to act in exceptional circumstances when something unexpected occurs. 

These exceptional circumstances include situations related to faults and malfunctions with machines and equipment, but also cases where the young worker may not remember how the work was supposed to be performed safely. A young worker must be explained how to act in exceptional circumstances and who to turn to for advice and instructions in such situations. The young worker should also be informed whom he/she should notify of such exceptional circumstances. 

For further information read the page Induction training.

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