How to protect yourself at work
Follow your employer's instructions and guidance concerning prevention of the coronavirus infection. If you wonder about something, do ask. You can ask your employer at the workplace or the shop steward. Also make use of the information behind the links below.
The employer is responsible for the safety and health of his employees at work and for the assessment of hazards and risks (Occupational Safety Act). Korona does not eliminate but, on the contrary, emphasizes this responsibility of the employer.
The employer must assess the hazards and risks both collectively and on an individual basis. Collective means, for example, that the employer provides workers with protective equipment and directs and supervises their use. In the situation of employees belonging to risk groups, hazards and risks are assessed individually in cooperation with occupational health care and the employer.
Vaccination against coronavirus has begun for people under the age of 70 and at risk. Can I go for corona vaccination during working hours?
The corona vaccine is a free and voluntary vaccine based on a decision of the Government. Under section 45 of the Communicable Diseases Act, an employee has the right to undergo such vaccination during working hours, unless it is difficult to do so at other times. It is also in the employer's interest for as many people as possible to be vaccinated. The employer should encourage employees to do this, for example. by paying salary for the vaccination time. However, vaccination is not automatically paid time.
My employer says they list the workers exposed to the corona. Is it OK?
It is. The employer must keep a list of workers who have been exposed to the corona virus at work. This is required by the Occupational Safety Act. Potential exposures are listed in the workplace. Exposure does not require that the person is ill, but that he or she has been at actual risk of becoming infected in the workplace. It requires certain information about contact with the infected person.
Finnish Institute for health and welfare THL defines exposure as (in Finnish): individuals who have been confined, face to face, or two meters away with an infected person for a total of 15 minutes within 24 hours. Thus, for example, an employee who has had coffee with a co-worker during a shift is included in the list if it subsequently becomes apparent that the other has contracted corona.
The list is a register with personal details and is therefore not publicly available. If necessary, the list can be requested by the occupational health and safety authority, the occupational health service, the doctor, the hospital district and the infectious disease doctor. However, an individual employee has the right to see information about him or herself. However, the employee cannot refuse to be added to the list. The list will be kept for 10 years.
A similar list must also be kept by law for workers who come into contact with biological hazards or have been exposed to biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, yeasts and molds and parasites in the course of their work.
Check out the more detailed instructions provided by the occupational safety and health authorities and frequently asked questions about documenting exposed employees at the webpage Työuojelu.fi (in Finnish).
If no risk assessment has been performed in your workplace
Step 1: Talk to your supervisor.
Step 2: If the matter does not proceed with the help of a supervisor, contact your workplace safety representative.
Step 3: Ultimately, contact the Regional State Administrative Agency, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of legislation in your area.
Use of visors
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health have not issued separate instructions for the use of visors, as they do not have a maximum utilization time or replacement recommendations (such as face masks). However, visors must be personal.
Each visor manufacturer has its own cleaning recommendations, e.g., what substance is worth using or should not be used for cleaning. Substances containing alcohol may dim the plastic of the visor.
Ultimately, the employer gives instructions for using the visor, as it is a good idea to adapt the instructions to the day-to-day operations of each workplace. As a general guideline, you should always wipe the visor inside and out when removing it. You should also wipe it before putting it on. The visor should not be touched unnecessarily when it is in use, so as not to transfer any drops to yourself or elsewhere.
Taking off the face mask in order to verify age or identity
Reserve a hand sanitizer for the customer and a place or a plate for the ID card where the ID card can easily be checked.
Ask the customer to do the following:
1. Use a hand sanitizer.
2. Present your ID for verification.
3. Remove the mask from your face by grasping the ear loops on both sides with a wide grip.
4. Hold the mask with the same removal grip in your hands during the inspection.
5. Do not drop the mask.
6. When the ID has been checked, put on the mask, wear the mask carefully without touching your face.
7. Press the nose clip from the top of the mask into place and correct the position of the mask on your face.
8. Use a hand sanitizer.
9. Put your ID card back in a safe place.
Read more on the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health's page: Guidelines for workers in the service sectors.
Is there an obligation for the employer to report possible corona exposure in the work community?
The employer has a duty to protect the health safety of all its employees and must therefore report possible exposure to the coronavirus and take protective measures. Protective measures are often planned in cooperation with occupational health care.
The employer must protect the privacy of its sick employee and must not disclose who the sick employee is. In a small work community, it may be possible to deduce who it is, even if the name is not mentioned. However, the employer must not leave other employees unprotected for this reason. An ill employee can, if he or she wishes, tell his or her employees about their illness. In the workplace, employee health data may only be processed by specifically designated individuals who normally work in the company's human resources department.
Corona is a contagious disease of general danger and the related obligations are regulated in the Communicable Diseases Act. The Communicable Diseases Act is based on finding out the contacts of the employee who is ill, and contacting potential exposed people, whether the person wants it or not. These contacts come from health authorities. In a workplace where an employee has been diagnosed with corona and the exposure of other employees is reasonably suspected, the infectious disease physician will place the co-workers in quarantine under the Infectious Diseases Act. In other words, the issue comes up in the work community anyway.
Guidelines by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health for prevention of infection:
Other guidelines by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Guidelines for support of mental health (in Finnish)
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare:
Protect yourself by washing your hands (guidelines and printable posters)
Taxation of face masks. The Finnish Tax Administration has outlined that the employer can give the employee face masks tax-free. From the point of view of tax exemption, it does not matter whether the employee wears a mask at work or on the way to work.
PAM's recommendations to different sector workers (in Finnish):
Information package by The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions: