Prevention of occupational accidents and diseases requires continuous monitoring and development of the working environment and operations. The working environment must be monitored and information on hazards must be collected through means such as workplace rounds and safety reports. The suggestions for development specified in the workplace survey carried out by occupational health care must also be taken into account. In addition, the employer must monitor sickness absences and accident statistics. Dangerous situations and the factors that led to them must be investigated and any circumstances that pose a risk to health must be addressed.
The workplace must have a clear procedure for reporting accidents and dangerous situations and for investigating incidents that have occurred. The aim of investigating accidents and dangerous situations is to find control measures to prevent similar occurrences.
Investigation of occupational accidents and dangerous situations
The investigation of occupational accidents and dangerous situations can be based on what could have happened. The aim is to find feasible measures to improve safety.
Accidents and dangerous situations are investigated to find out the following:
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- How can a similar accident be prevented from happening again?
Factors causing dangerous situations and occupational accidents can be divided into three categories: organisational, technical and human causes.
- the employee’s guidance has been inadequate or has not covered exceptional situations
- poor planning
- neglect of maintenance
- neglect of work supervision
- shortcomings in the dimensioning of and arrangements in the workspace, difficult working positions and motions
- the employee’s physical workload is excessive
- the employee’s attention span has decreased due to shortcoming in working hours arrangements.
- shortcomings in protection or tools
- equipment malfunction
- corrosion and wear of a substance.
- lack of information or information not presented in an understandable form
- habitual incorrect way of working
- the operator of a machine does not see or hear a hazard warning
- intentional negligence.
How to act in the event of an accident
Occupational accidents must be reported to the employer in accordance with the practices agreed upon at the workplace. The report should be submitted as soon as possible under the circumstances.
The employer must report the accident to its own insurance company. The employer must submit the report without delay and at the latest within ten working days of being informed of the accident.
Serious occupational accidents
Serious occupational accidents must be reported without delay to the police and the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Regional State Administrative Agency. An accident is regarded serious if an employee dies or suffers a permanent or serious injury. The reporting obligation is based on the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces. The law obligates the occupational safety and health authority to investigate all serious occupational accidents that come to its attention.
Occupational and work-related diseases
Work-related diseases have a causal link to work, which means that the work involves a factor causing the disease. Work-related diseases are either occupational diseases or work-related diseases, in which case the cause of the disease is related to work, but the criteria for an occupational disease are not met.
The definition of an occupational disease is based not only on medicine, but also on legislation and agreements. An occupational disease is caused by a physical, chemical or biological factor present in the work. The most common occupational diseases include hearing damage resulting from noise, respiratory allergies, skin diseases, asbestos-related diseases and upper limb strain injuries. The list of diseases classified as occupational diseases and their underlying causes can be found in the list of occupational diseases in a Government Decree.
The employer must prevent the occurrence of work-related diseases by identifying hazards, assessing risks and planning the work and work methods. However, if occupational diseases or other work-related diseases occur, the employer must rectify the working conditions in order to avoid similar cases in the future.
Occupational accident and disease insurance
The employer is obligated to take out and pay for occupational accident and disease insurance for its employees from an insurance company providing workers’ compensation insurance. The employer’s obligation to insure is based on the Workers’ Compensation Act. Insurance is part of employees’ social security.
Occupational accident and disease insurance compensates the employee for the costs and loss of earnings caused by the occupational accident or disease. The insurance is valid at the place of work and during commute between home and the workplace.
The Finnish Workers’ Compensation Center
The Finnish Workers’ Compensation Center (TVK) is an umbrella organisation of insurance institutions providing insurance for occupational accidents and diseases. The Workers’ Compensation Center coordinates and develops the implementation of occupational accident and disease insurance. In addition, TVK takes care of the processing of claims and the payment of compensation in cases where the employer did not have a valid workers’ compensation insurance.
Statistics and investigation reports on occupational accidents
The Workers’ Compensation Center maintains and publishes statistics on occupational accidents and diseases. It also investigates accidents at work and produces anonymous publications on the cases investigated. The purpose is to produce and disseminate information gained by investigating accidents in order to prevent similar cases in the future.
Accident cases are published as detailed accident investigation reports and shorter accident reports on the työpaikkakuolemat.fi website(avautuu uuteen ikkunaan, you will be directed to another service) (in Finnish).