Occupational health care

The aim of occupational health care is to further the joint efforts of employers, employees and occupational health care professionals concerning

  • the health of employees, plus work and functional capacity at different stages of working life
  • preventing work-related diseases and accidents
  • the health and safety of work and the working environment
  • the functioning of the work community

Legislation

The MSAH directs, oversees and develops legislation on occupational health care. Occupational health is regulated by the following Acts and decrees:

The organisation of occupational health care

The occupational health services (OHS) system is preventive health care that the employer has a duty to arrange by law. Employers may organise curative care voluntarily.

Municipal health centres are obliged to provide occupational health services for companies and entrepreneurs located in the municipality. In addition, the employer may independently arrange their own occupational health services (“integrated OHS”) or do so together with other employers (usually in the form of an association) or by acquiring the services from another unit entitled to provide occupational health services (usually a private clinic). During the past few years, the share of integrated occupational health units among the service providers has decreased and that of private clinics has increased. Occupational health services provided at public health centres is increasingly arranged as municipal public utilities and limited companies.

Particularly characteristic of the official control is close tripartite (government authorities, employer and employee representatives) co-operation in MSAH’s advisory board on occupational health services, in which the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and organizations representing occupational health professionals also participate.

The Finnish Social Insurance Institution (Kela) reimburses employers for the costs of preventive occupational health care. It also reimburses the costs of treatment at general practitioner level and other health care costs.

Tasks of occupational health services in Finland

The foundation for occupational health services in Finland is the Occupational Health Care Act of 1978 (reformed in 2001) and the Government Decrees issued on the basis of this Act. One of the Decrees defines the principles of Good Occupational Health Practice (GOHP), the content of occupational health services and the education and training of professionals and experts, and the other defines medical examinations in tasks with a special risk of illness.

In co-operation with the employer and employees, occupational health services aim to prevent problems resulting from work on one hand, and to promote employees’ health and work ability on the other. According to GOHP, occupational health services is a continuous process that includes workplace needs assessment, operational planning, actual operations, monitoring and assessment as well as continuous quality improvement. It also includes good professional practice, multidisciplinary and multiprofessional operating procedure, necessary information about workplace conditions and co-operation as defined in the Occupational Health Care Act.

The statutory tasks of occupational health services include

  • assessment of the health and safety aspects of the work
  • assessment and monitoring of employees’ health and work ability
  • making initiatives for improvement and monitoring their implementation
  • advice and guidance
  • monitoring employees with disabilities and referring them to rehabilitation
  • co-operation with representatives of other health care services and social insurance
  • participation in organizing first aid at the workplace
  • participation in activities that maintain work ability
  • monitoring the quality and impact of occupational health care activities.

Duties and responsibilities of agencies