Skip to content
Last updated: 21.06.2023

Workers must be insured against accidents at work

Occupational accidents happen at the workplace or during commutes. Employers are responsible for insuring their workers against occupational accidents.

In the service sector, accidents at work typically happen when moving objects or lifting loads by hand. Accidents may also result from slips, trips, and falls, and they are caused by pointy, edged, and abrasive objects. 

Poor working conditions and incorrect working methods are also a cause of accidents, but workers may also suffer threats of violence, especially when working alone

New workers have a higher risk of accidents during their first days at work, but experienced workers may become desensitised to the hazards of their work. 

Occupational accidents happen 

  • during work 
  • in conditions resulting from work 
  • at workplaces 
  • on commutes 
  • during errands for the employer 
  • as part of rescue operations to save lives or the employer’s property 
  • in wars and armed conflicts 
  • in Finland and abroad. 

If a worker has an accident when commuting between their home and workplace, it is considered an occupational accident, as long as the worker was taking the shortest route or had deviated for an acceptable reason. For example, taking your child to the day centre or buying groceries on the way home is acceptable. Visiting the local pub is not. 

Handling accidents 

Preliminary instructions for accidents 

Employers are responsible for sufficiently instructing their workers on what to do in the event of an accident. The workplace must make adequate first aid equipment available, along with workers qualified to give first aid. If a worker has an accident, their employer must issue an insurance certificate that allows the worker to receive care and medication free of charge at the health centre or hospital. 

Accidents must be recorded by physicians 

Even minor accidents must be reported to physicians as occupational accidents. Workers should double-check that their physician has accurately recorded the accident as an occupational accident (työtapaturma) in the medical certificate (sick note, sairauslomatodistus).  

A common mistake is not reporting sprains caused by sudden movements at work as occupational accidents. In this case, the accident insurance company may deny benefits, leaving the worker to only receive sick pay according to their collective agreement. If you only make the connection between work, working motions, and your pain later (in the evening after work, for example), you must make a doctor’s appointment immediately. 

Serious accidents 

If the victim of an accident appears to be in serious danger, dial 112 for the national emergency response centre (hätäkeskus). Report the incident to your supervisor and occupational health and safety representative (työsuojeluvaltuutettu) as well. The emergency response centre will typically alert the police, but you should ask them to call the police yourself. If an accident at work is so serious that it may result in death, the police will want to investigate immediately. 

Notifying the authorities and insurance company 

Employers are responsible for reporting accidents to their insurance provider. To ensure their own insurance coverage, workers should verify from their employer that the accident has been reported to the insurance company. The occupational health and safety authorities must be notified immediately if an accident at work or occupational illness has resulted in serious consequences, especially death. 

If the police or occupational health and safety authorities suspect that the accident was caused by the employer’s negligence or violation of occupational health and safety regulations, the public prosecutor will bring charges against the employer. During the investigation, the victim or victims should state for the record that they wish to claim compensation for damages and demand punishment for the accident. 

Accident prevention 

Accidents at work should be prevented. Regular workplace hazard and risk assessments are important and should be reviewed with workers. 

If an accident does occur, its cause must be investigated. At the minimum, the investigation must include the victim’s supervisor and the occupational health and safety officer and representative. The investigation must document the elements of the accident, review the events, and investigate the contributing factors.  

The investigation’s results and corrective measures to prevent a repeat of the accident must be communicated to the workers as well. The investigation report of the occupational health and safety authorities may also include instructions for measures and suggestions for improvements. 

Occupational accident and illness insurance policy 

Employers are responsible for insuring their workers. The obligation of mandatory occupational accident and illness insurance policy includes all workers in private and public-service employment relationships (työsuhde and virkasuhde respectively), as well as any equivalent employment relationships. 

The name and address of the insurance provider must be posted at the workplace. 

Useful links