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The working environment and health and safety at work

In a safe working environment, every employee, regardless of his or her background and form of employment, knows how to work safely and feels part of the workplace community. The occupational health and safety (OHS) representative has sufficient resources in relation to the number of workers and the company’s area of operation.

Our goals

  • Ensuring language training for immigrants
  • Reducing accidents in temporary agency work
  • Ensuring that occupational health and safety representatives can have a real impact

Language training for immigrants

In the service sectors, an increasing number of workers have an immigrant background, and their level of Finnish or Swedish language skills is insufficient when they enter the labour market. In the service sectors, the working and service language is usually Finnish. It is particularly important that induction training is provided in a language in which the worker has sufficient skills.

The employer’s commitment to a culture that supports language learning increases participation in the workplace community and loyalty to the employer in addition to facilitating integration into society. It also protects against labour exploitation and unemployment and supports professional and career development.

We are working to ensure that employers and workplace communities take responsibility for supporting immigrants in learning the working language.

Reducing accidents in temporary agency work

The accident frequency rate in temporary agency work is more than twice as high as the average for workers in general. While the average accident frequency rate is below 30 (accidents per million hours worked), it is higher than 60 in temporary agency work.

There are clear differences in the frequency of accidents at work between workers of different ages. The number of accidents is high among young people, but the consequences of accidents are generally more serious among older workers (Finnish Workers’ Compensation Centre, 2023). Temporary agency workers are typically hired during peak seasons when there is no time to provide sufficient or any induction training.

We are contributing in different ways to ensuring that adequate attention is paid to induction training for temporary agency workers.

Real impact opportunities for occupational health and safety representatives

All too often in the service sectors, occupational health and safety (OHS) representatives in workplaces represent far too many workers. Employers have a statutory obligation to release OHS representatives from their duties for a reasonable period required to carry out their duties as OHS representatives.

When determining the time needed for the performance of the duties of an OHS representative under the law and agreements, the following factors must be taken into account: the number of workers represented by the OHS representative; the size of the region covered; the number of locations; and the nature of the work performed in the locations. More release periods for OHS representatives are almost always negotiated in connection with collective bargaining.

However, an increase in release periods will not help if the representative is responsible for thousands of workers and hundreds of locations. For example, national companies often have OHS representatives who represent all the company’s workers across the country.

The OHS representatives are overwhelmed by their workload. In addition, each worker’s right to support from her or his OHS representative in the event of a problem is threatened when the representative simply lacks the time to deal with everything. This in turn leads to reluctance to start serving as an OHS representative.

PAM is working to ensure that the number of employees represented is limited by law.

Any questions? Contact our experts!

Merja Vihersalo

Merja Vihersalo

Työympäristöasiantuntija, Edunvalvontaosasto

Työsuojelu, tasa-arvo ja yhdenvertaisuus