Updated 30.10..2021. (Published 6 September 2020). These instructions will be modified as required as we obtain further information on the COVID-19.


Risk assessment

If activities of the workplace pose a risk of exposure to COVID-19, the employer must define the likelihood of employee infection and the severity of the consequences of the disease caused by the infection. Based on these, the risk posed for employees can be assessed, and measures for reducing risks to employees can be planned and implemented. Generally, the objective of risk assessment measures is to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. In the case of COVID-19, the goal must be to have zero infections. See also Risk assessment and analysis, Työsuojelu.fi 

The employer must also assess the risks in remote work and hybrid work. Hybrid work refers to the combination of remote work and in-office work. In addition, other work-related job demands of hybrid work, such as work content, work arrangements and the social functioning of the work community, must be taken into account. Link to the instruction of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health for remote work.

Impact of vaccinations on risk assessment

  • The coronavirus vaccine provides protection against coronavirus disease, and in particular its severe forms, and prevents viral infection and viral shedding and transmission from one person to another. The best protection against the coronavirus is if the employees get vaccinated as comprehensively as possible.
  • The likelihood of Covid-19 Infection is lower for those who have been vaccinated. Also the consequences of the infection are less severe. In the risk assessment this means that the risk levels are lower and the measures are smaller. At the same time, it is worth considering the impact of the decision on non-vaccinated and those who have received only one vaccine. The assessment should take into account that vaccination data are health data. See additional information on The Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman website.
  • The expertise of occupational health services can be utilised to help in assessing the impact of vaccinations on employees at particular risk of COVID-19 (risk group).

Assessing the likelihood of infection risk

Please answer the following questions to assess the likelihood of infection at your workplace:

 If the vaccination coverage is good, the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace is not considerable in case you take care of good hygiene practices and occupational safety at the same time. Also the risk assessment needs to be updated regularly.

Instead if you think that the vaccination coverage is not good, please answer the following, extra questions in order to assess the risks.

  • Are there known infections related to the workplace or to the employees?

  • Is it impossible to organise conditions at the workplace in such a way that the risks related to close contacts remain under control?

  • Can employees come to work with the flu?

  • Does the work include using a loud voice?

  • Is it impossible to divide the employees into groups so that the groups would remain separate during work and breaks?

  • Does the work include employees moving in conditions where the recommendation on the use of face masks by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare applies? This could be, for example, work-related travel using public transportation.

  • Does the work include common transport?

  • Do employees have to be at the workplace? In other words, is there is no possibility for remote work?

  • Are meetings or breaks conducted in spaces where participants meet each other face to face?

  • Is the level of hygiene at the workplace poor?

  • Is the air conditioning low-powered?

  • Do the employees have to travel abroad?

  • Does your workplace not have instructions regarding travel and people who come from abroad?

  • Do some of your employees live temporarily outside their own homes in shared apartments or rooms? Do the people who live together change frequently?

  • Are there dusts or other substances that irritate the respiratory tract at work that increase the need to sneeze and cough?

  • Are there shared tools used for working which cannot be cleaned between users?

  • Have at-risk employees at the workplace not been identified with the support of occupational health services or a physician or have the related risk management measures not been implemented?

  • Have regional restrictions and recommendations been ignored in the workplace?

    See the Finnish Government’s Regional COVID-19 situation and restrictions on the hospital district websites

 The more frequently your answer to the above questions is “no”, the lower the risk of infection is at your workplace and the less restrictive measures are needed. If the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace is not considerable then taking care of hygiene and good ventilation is enough combined with directing employees with symptoms to occupational health care. Occupation health care assesses the health status of employees and directs them to tests if necessary. These measures will also prevent the spread of other infectious diseases (e.g. influenza) and decrease the number of sickness absences.
 

Measures for reducing infection risk

  • The employer tell the employees that it supports taking the vaccine.

  • The primary way for removing perceived dangers is by technical or organisational measures.

  • If remote work, organising workspaces and working times or other measures do not lead an acceptable risk level, wearing face masks or respiratory protective equipment at the workplace may be introduced.

  • When wearing face masks and respiratory protective equipment, please note:

    • Wearing face masks must not lead to a reduction in other safety measures.

    • Wearing masks will reduce the exposure to droplets of other people than the person wearing the mask. Respiratory protective equipment (FFP2, FFP3) can be worn based on the risk assessment when the goal is to protect the person wearing the protective equipment (especially in high-risk situations).

    • If the employer orders the wearing of masks or respiratory protective equipment, the order must be supervised, and all employees must be trained in their appropriate use.

    • The employees must obey the employer’s order to use face masks and respirators.

    • The employer must take into consideration special situations in which an individual employee cannot use protective equipment (e.g. illness.) The expertise of occupational health services can be utilised to help in assessing special situations.

    • The employer must ensure that there is a sufficient number of masks or protective equipment available.

  • See also the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s Checklist for workplace coronavirus risk assessment (link) and guidelines on preventing the coronavirus pandemic.

  • By implementing measures described in the instructions you can affect the answers of the checklist (yes => no) and thus decrease the risk of infection.

See also:

Covid-19 instructions for the social welfare and health care sector (not updated at the moment)

Covid-19 risk assessment instructions for the construction industry (not updated at the moment)

Follow also the regulations and guidelines of the Regional State Administrative Agency and your municipality.

Instructions for employers and employees to prevent COVID-19 infections by The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (not updated at the moment)

Recommendation on the use of face masks by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

For more information, please contact viestinta@ttl.fi

The guidelines of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) are drawn up together with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (SMAH) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. We also follow the publications of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).​

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), COVID-19

World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus