Safety and health in the workplace
Instruction and guidance
Instruction and guidance - Ingressi
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. The employer must monitor compliance with the instructions given and intervene if an employee does not follow them.
Instruction and guidance - Yleistä
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. The aim is that the competence of all employees is at a level required for safe working.
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.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must continuously monitor the safety of working methods and intervene in situations where an employee does not follow the instructions given. Similarly, the act includes the employee's obligation to work according to the instructions.
The importance of following the guidelines is emphasised in situations where the employer has identified a health hazard. The employer may therefore take disciplinary action in accordance with the law and workplace practices if the employee does not follow the instructions without a justified reason.
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.