Safety and health in the workplace
Responsibilities of other operators
Responsibilities of other operators
The Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act also imposes obligations on other operators who contribute to the safety of work and the work environment indirectly. These operators can also be held legally liable for crimes against occupational safety and health.
Operators who contribute to the safety of work and the work environment indirectly include
- manufacturers and suppliers of machinery, work equipment, technical devices and any personal protective equipment used in the workplace
- manufacturers and suppliers of dangerous chemicals
- designers of the structural solutions of the work environment and work equipment
- installers of machinery, work equipment and other devices
- individuals who carry out commissioning inspections and periodic inspections
- individuals who ship and load goods
- owners, lessors and occupiers of buildings
- port authorities, and
- ship operators and owners.
Manufacturers and suppliers of machinery, devices and any personal protective equipment used in the workplace
It is the manufacturer’s duty to ensure that the structure, accessories and properties of their technical equipment are designed and manufactured in such a way that the equipment is suitable for its intended purpose and does not pose any risk of accidents or damage to health.
Manufacturers must clearly communicate any hazards associated with the operation of their machinery or devices. If hazards cannot be completely eliminated, the manufacturer must provide information on the necessary personal protective equipment to be used during operation.
Manufacturers of personal protective equipment are subject to the same obligations as manufacturers of technical devices. In addition, manufacturers of personal protective equipment must ensure that their products effectively protect users against the hazards that they are intended to prevent.
Depending on the properties of the equipment, it is the manufacturer’s duty to
- demonstrate that the equipment conforms to the applicable laws
- compile a technical dossier that enables compliance to be demonstrated and monitored
- draw up any necessary user manuals and other instructions to be supplied with the equipment, and
- affix any relevant labels testifying to compliance to the equipment.
If the operation of technical equipment involves a dangerous substance, the manufacturer must label the equipment with the name of the substance and information about the associated hazards in normal use and in the event of an accident. The equipment must also be supplied with a user manual and safety instructions applicable to the dangerous substance in question.
Presumption of conformity
Technical devices are deemed to be in conformity with the applicable laws (presumption of conformity) if
- the manufacturer has issued a declaration of conformity and
labelled the machinery accordingly, or
- conformity with the applicable laws can be demonstrated otherwise.
Suppliers of technical equipment must ensure that the equipment still satisfies the same safety requirements that it did when it was first placed on the market. The equipment must also be accompanied by any necessary instructions in Finnish and Swedish.
The presumption of conformity also applies to any technical equipment that is already in use and to suppliers of such equipment.
If modifications that are inconsistent with the intended purpose of a piece of equipment or that otherwise have a material impact on safety are introduced to technical equipment, the assembly is considered to constitute a new device.
Technical equipment can be exhibited even if it does not satisfy statutory requirements. However, in such cases, the equipment must carry a label showing that it does not conform to the applicable laws and that it must not be sold or commissioned until regulatory compliance has been ensured. Any exhibited devices must also not pose a risk.
Manufacturers and suppliers of dangerous chemicals
Most of the provisions applicable to dangerous substances and chemicals are included in chemicals legislation. These laws lay down both safety requirements for the products in question and the obligations of suppliers and supervisory bodies. The Occupational Safety and Health Act only contains provisions on the use of dangerous chemicals in workplaces.
Designers of the structural solutions of the work environment and work equipment
Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, hazards and risks associated with work and workplaces must be identified, evaluated and, where possible, eliminated at the design stage.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act imposes certain obligations on self-employed persons and companies that are commissioned to design
- structural solutions for a work environment
- procedures or production techniques, or
- machinery, work equipment or other devices.
It is the designer’s duty to ensure that their design is also fit for purpose from the perspective of occupational safety regulations.
It is also the designer’s responsibility to find out about the intended purpose of their design and the applicable occupational safety and health regulations. The designer can be held liable for any aspects of safety of which they were or should have been aware.
Installers of machinery, work equipment and other devices
It is the manufacturer’s or the supplier’s duty to ensure that their products are supplied with any necessary instructions for installing, operating and servicing the equipment. The installer must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The installer is responsible for ensuring that the equipment or device is installed in accordance with the instructions and any applicable regulations and that any necessary protective devices are duly fitted and available in the workplace.
Individuals who carry out commissioning inspections and periodic inspections
The law requires that machinery and tools be inspected before commissioning and periodically thereafter. The applicable provisions set out the machinery and tools subject to inspections, the scope of inspections and inspectors’ qualifications.
Both the relevant legal provisions and the manufacturer’s instructions must be taken into account when determining the scope of inspections. All inspections must be carried out by qualified individuals and be based on impartial observations.
The inspector must provide the employer with a report of any faults identified in the course of the inspection and instructions for rectifying the non-conformances. The employer must be able to make their machinery or device compliant on the basis of the report.
Individuals who ship and load goods
Responsibility for providing instructions for the safe handling of dangerous goods rests with whoever ships the goods or loads them prior to shipment.
All items or containers weighing at least 1,000 kilogrammes must carry a visible and permanent label showing the total weight. If the exact weight of an item cannot be given, an estimate must be shown in the label.
Individuals who transport or unload goods must be familiar with the special risks associated with their work. If loading and unloading carry unusual risks that the transporter cannot be expected to be aware of, instructions for safe handling must be provided. For example, prefabricated homes must be supplied with instructions for loading and unloading, as incorrect handling could cause the assembly to crush the handler. Instructions must also be supplied with, for example, prefabricated sections of buildings, timber and flexible intermediate bulk containers.
Owners, lessors and occupiers of buildings
It is always the employer’s duty to ensure that the building in which they operate and the workspace used by their employees satisfy the requirements arising from the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even if the facility is leased. The lessor must allow the employer to carry out any repairs and modifications that are necessary in order to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Repairs can include, for example, improvements to the ventilation system or lighting, the removal of dangerous substances or building shelters. However, consent from the owner, occupier or lessor of the building is always required for any repairs or modifications that are due to the facilities being used for something else than their intended purpose.
Port authorities and ship operators and owners
The law imposes certain obligations on individuals who contribute to the safety of ship loading and unloading even when these individuals are not acting as employers. Examples of such individuals include port owners and operators, ship owners, captains and other individuals in charge of ships. They have a duty to observe the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in respect of any work performed in a port, on land or on board a ship in connection with loading or unloading a vessel used for sea or inland waterway transport or refuelling a vessel. The word ‘port’ also covers docks, quays and other similar places.
More detailed provisions on the obligations of port authorities and ship operators and owners are included in the Finnish Government Decree on the Occupational Safety in Loading and Unloading of Ships (633/2004). The Decree governs the loading and unloading of ships as well as the handling of goods and all work directly related to the same in ports. However, the Decree only applies to port operators and ship owners in ports where extensive loading and unloading of vessels or comparable operations are carried out.