- Working in Finland:
Changes in work and working conditions 19972009
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (23.03.2010) There are many gateways
to and from work. The economic structure and competitiveness of the trade cycle at any
given time determine the type of work on offer. Workplace conditions and personal
experiences influence the extent to which people want to work when they have a choice. The
health care and social security system largely determines whether someone will return to
work after a long absence due to illness or unemployment. This book examines the different
aspects of work, health and work participation as well as their developments in recent
years, mainly on the basis of the Work and Health Survey conducted by the Finnish
Institute of Occupational Health.
At the end of 2009, Finlands population
was around 5.3 million, of which approximately 150 000 almost 3% were foreign
citizens. The year 2008 saw an improvement in the economic situation and employment, with
the employment rate among persons aged 15 to 64 rising to over 70%. However, the economic
downturn in 2009 reduced employment. According to the Statistics Finland Labour Force
Survey, 2.4 million were employed in September 2009 - a rate of 68%, about 3 percentage
points lower than the previous year. Young people were mostly affected. Almost 200 000
people were unemployed in September 2009, which was 34 000 more than a year earlier. An
unemployment rate of 9% was forecast for the end of the year. Although there are some
signs of recovery, unemployment is predicted to increase further in 2010.
Each working person took an average of 10
sickness days per year (Statistics Finland, Labour Force Survey 2008). This amounts to 25
million sickness days a year, the equivalent to 120 000 person-work-years. By the end of
2009, just over 270 000 people were on a disability pension.
The national target of increased work
participation showed good progress until 2008, when the recession halted the trend of
lengthened careers. Those in the older age groups are under pressure to quit work life,
and it is harder than ever to find work when people are unemployed during a recession. It
is now more difficult for young people to access the labour market, which is something
that may later affect their careers. However, as social security seems a more uncertain
option, people want to stay at work longer; attitudes to staying at work have changed.
According to the Work and Health Survey, 42% of those employed, and over the age of 45
said in 2006 that nothing would persuade them to continue working beyond the age of 63,
whereas in 2009, the number of those with the same response had declined by 6%. Health and
economic factors were still thought to be the main considerations for continuing in
employment, but in the last three years, the content of work and its potential for
flexibility has also become important.
The work environment
Still too many accidents
Accidents at work are still common, although
the situation has slightly improved in the 2000s. When this document was being compiled,
the registered data available covered the period until 2007. In 2007, insurance companies
compensated approximately 56 000 employees for occupational accidents resulting in
incapacity to work for over three days. The accident rate per thousand employees fell
slightly between 2000 (28.0) and 2007 (26.7). Altogether, there were about 150 000
occupational accidents in Finland in 2007. Of these, some 19 000 occurred while commuting.
A total of 47 persons died in occupational
accidents in 2007, 16 of these while commuting. Nearly three out of four occupational
accidents happened to men, and the risk of occupational accidents was highest among young
men aged 15-24. The most hazardous sectors in 2007 were construction, the food industry,
carpentry, engineering works, construction metal work, agriculture, and animal husbandry.
According to the Work and Health Survey, there was a decline in occupational accidents
between 2006 and 2009. The main explanation for this is the economic downturn, which
resulted in fewer people in work life in general. One in seven respondents felt they were
at major risk of an accident at their workplace. This response was most common in the
construction and service industries, and might well reflect a real increased risk of
accidents due to pressure at work in these sectors.
It is important to look into the causes of
occupational accidents, especially serious ones, and to try to prevent them. Apart from
the human suffering they cause, they also result in productivity losses and huge costs to
the countrys economy. In Finland, serious occupational accidents cause direct losses
to society amounting to more than 100 million a year, when the average cost of one
serious occupational accident is estimated at 10 000. Overall, occupational
accidents result in direct costs to the countrys economy of some 600 million
Violence and threat of violence on the increase
The Work and Health Survey revealed that
physical violence and the threat of physical violence at the workplace increased between
2006 and 2009, among both men and women. Those aged between 45 and 54 are at greatest
risk, with one in eight becoming a victim. Violence and the threat of violence mainly
increased in the health and social services sector, and in public administration.
Slight fall in exposure to noise and vibration
Approximately 1.5 million employees are
exposed to physical risks such as noise, vibration, exceptional temperature conditions,
and radiation in their work environment. Nevertheless, the Work and Health Survey revealed
that the number of those exposed to noise and vibration has fallen in recent years,
although it still affects around half a million people. Agriculture and forestry, the wood
industry, and construction were the main sectors in which people were exposed to noise and
vibration, often at the same time. In a survey in 2009 one in four respondents claimed
that sometimes the noise was so loud at their workplace that people could not be heard
even when they shouted. Noise still seems to be a major risk factor in the work
environment, though the nature of the problem is changing. In areas of work where
communication and the processing of information are crucial, the disruption caused by
noise strains and hampers the work process. As the workforce ages, the number of those
with impaired hearing is rising, and it is hard for them to cope in an environment
dependent on voice communication.
Around 300 000 employees were exposed to the
cold in 2009, and 42% of respondents complained of cold and draughts.
The majority of the population are exposed to
small electromagnetic fields at work, at home, and during leisure time activities.
However, no occupational diseases or more serious conditions were found among those
exposed to large electromagnetic fields in industry. Exposure to ionizing radiation is
carefully monitored; this may be the reason why serious injuries or cases of exposure have
stopped growing in recent years.
Nearly 3000 occupational diseases annually due to
chemical agents and dust
About half of the economically active
population, or just over a million employees, are exposed to chemical substances or indoor
air impurities at work. The incidence of exposure to chemical agents has not fallen
significantly in recent years: in fact it would seem to be at the same level as earlier in
the 2000s. A total of 23% of the respondents of the 2009 Work and Health Survey claimed to
work with substances that were harmful to health. As previously, dust occurred in almost
one in two work environments. It was mainly a problem in construction, agriculture and
industry. Certain former exposure agents, such as quartz and creosote, have once again
emerged as risk factors in the work environment. Quartz dust can cause silicosis and lung
cancer in smaller concentrations than was once thought. Exposure to creosote has further
increased since the ban on the wood protection agent, CCA, which was previously in common
use. Various chemical factors and dust have been responsible for just short of 3 000
cases, or suspected cases, of occupational diseases every year, the majority of which have
been skin diseases and asthma.
Poor quality indoor air common problem
The quality of indoor air is of fundamental
significance to the health of employees. Poor quality indoor air has an adverse effect on
job satisfaction and, in the worst case scenario, impurities can cause occupational
diseases. Draughts, dry or stuffy air, and dust are the most common causes of indoor
climate-related problems in office workplaces, as reported by four out of ten of those who
responded to the survey. Indoor air impurities can cause cancer (radon, asbestos, tobacco
smoke), allergies (animal epithelia, dust mites, mould) or irritation (volatile organic
compounds, dust, microbes). One in five employees in the health and social services sector
and the education sector reported the smell of mould indoors at work. The Finnish Tobacco
Act has done much to reduce exposure to tobacco smoke at work, and the exposure of
restaurant employees has also decreased.
No decrease in the amount of physically demanding
As in previous years, about one in four
respondents regarded their work tasks as physically strenuous, and the proportion of women
who think this has risen in particular. The amount of repetitive lifting of heavy loads
has also increased. The number of repeated identical hand movements at work has also
risen, again, especially among women. One in four employees still works in an awkward
position for at least one hour a day. When examined by sector, work in awkward positions
increased after 2006 among men employed in industry, and women in hotels and catering.
Employees who mostly worked in awkward positions in 2009 were those in construction (48%),
agriculture and forestry (46%), hotel and catering (39%), and the health and social
services sector (38%). In 2009, 25% of men and 27% of women saw their jobs as either
fairly or very physically strenuous, which is 4% more than in 2006. The biggest change had
taken place among women working in industry. A third of respondents use a computer for
more than four hours a day. The amount of work done on a computer has increased among men,
but has remained the same among women.
Almost one in two workplaces undergoing changes
The tempo of change in work life has clearly
increased in the past two decades. This is the result of various phenomena: the rapid
advance of technology, the huge increase in knowledge, the emphasis on social skills, and
internationalization. Just under half (46%) of employees in 2009 said that there had been
changes at their own workplace in the previous three years that had altered the nature of
their work, the tasks themselves, or the workload. Clerical workers felt that there had
been more changes than manual workers. Most changes had taken place with regard to work
content, which also has an effect work deadlines and locations. Flexibility in these areas
Overtime, weekend work and irregular working hours
often relied on to meet need for flexibility in production and customer services
Four out of ten employees, women as well as
men, are flexible in their working hours on a regular monthly basis if the job or their
supervisor requires it. However, men, especially manual workers, clearly receive less
overtime payment or time off in lieu than previously. Women (24%) now work overtime almost
as often as men (29%). Individual flexibility with regard to working hours, i.e. the scope
for regulating the length of the working day personally (flexitime) or working certain
hours on another day, is less common than flexibility to meet the needs of production if
the job or supervisor requires it. Only a third of employees are permitted to be flexible
on a regular basis to suit their own needs.
Rise in teleworking levels out
Teleworking is one approach to flexibility
concerning the place where one works. It is a diversified method of organizing work,
where, in addition to flexibility regarding the place of work, there is often flexibility
in terms of when the work gets done. Teleworking of this kind increased between 2003 and
2006, but after this, its growth tailed off. In 2009, 15% of employees carried out
telework at least occasionally, men twice as often as women. Those who telework are
usually highly educated and tend more often to be senior clerical staff. One in three
employees work in a number of different locations and their work is mobile, men more
frequently than women.
Greater focus on well-being at work
Managers interest in the health and
well-being of their employees seems to be growing, although the situation varies from
sector to sector and workplace to workplace. Furthermore, workplaces have more actively
conducted surveys on workplace atmosphere and carried out work organization development
projects, although more often in clerical sectors such as finance, than in production or
construction. The features of work organization and managerial work, and workplace
atmosphere have remained fairly good, as the level of the 2000s. Work targets were mainly
clear to employees (97%), the majority of workplaces discussed them adequately (81%), and
the majority of employees felt that their line manager treated employees fairly and
The results of last decades survey
reveal hardly no changes in the perception of mental strain and pressure at work. Feelings
of strength and energy at work and interest in ones job suggest a positive attitude
to work, associated with well-being at work. A total of 56% of employees felt strong and
energetic every day, or at least a few times a week. The corresponding figure was 52% in
2006. Women felt energetic more often than men in both years of the survey. However,
although the extent to which people feel bullied at the workplace has not increased
significantly, it has not declined either. One result causing concern was that the
difference regarding feelings of bullying between the state and the private sector is more
obvious than previously, as is the large amount of perceived harassment in education and
the health and social services sector.
Multiculturalism at the workplace more common
Workplaces have become more multicultural.
Nearly a third (30%) of employed Finnish people reported working with employees of an
immigrant background in 2009. The state, local authorities, and the private sector
employed equal numbers of migrants. People are most likely to have migrant co-workers in
education (42%) and industry (40%), mainly in Southern and Western Finland.
Opinions regarding the impartial treatment of
migrants has moved in a more positive direction at Finnish workplaces. In 2009, a total of
69% of employed Finns whose co-workers had migrant backgrounds also thought that migrants
were treated fairly. The corresponding figure in 2006 was 59%. Unfair treatment was
observed most frequently in the hotel and catering sectors (5%). The major challenges for
multicultural workplaces included inadequate language and professional skills, friction
arising from cultural differences, and differing opinions on gender roles in work life.
A third of women in senior positions
Finnish work life remains strongly
differentiated by gender: men and women work in different professions, and have different
roles. Vertical differentiation means the genderization of job status, and horizontal
differentiation means that men and women tend to work in different sectors and jobs.
Vertical differentiation has become less of a problem, as can be seen in the increase in
the number of women in the legislator, senior official and manager occupational groups
(32% in 2009). However, management remains very male-dominated: there are no visible signs
of improvement in horizontal differentiation. Male occupational groups still include
building, repairs and manufacturing (93% men), and process industries and transport (78%
men). Female-dominatedoccupational groups are services, sales andcare work/nursing (83%
women), and office work and customer services (80% women). In 2009, 72% of men, and 51% of
women believedthat we live in a time of gender equality.
The reconciliation of work and home/family
life faces fewer obstacles than before. the number of work-family conflicts has fallen in
recent years, at all stages of the family lifecycle. A total of 65% of those employed in
2009 felt that their home affairs hardly ever disturbed their concentration at work. Men
thought this more than women. Similarly, nearly half were of the view that being at work
hardly ever resulted in feelings that they were neglecting their family affairs. Of the
professional groups, managers and senior officials particularly felt they neglected their
home life, as did entrepreneurs and those in supervisory positions. In the survey, 9% of
men and 40% of women in employment, who were either married or co-habiting and had a
family, thought that they themselves looked after their children more than their partner,
played with them more and, for example, drove them more often to daycare or to hobbies.
Furthermore, women did housework more than men. In the 2009 survey, 6% of men and 53% of
women claimed to do more housework than their partner. Thus, women more often take
responsibility for looking after children and doing the housework, and this tends to tax
their strength, making contribution to work life sometimes difficult.
Health and work ability of the working-age population
Considerable occupational variations in sickness
The number of sickness absences rose in the
2000s, although the trend seems to have levelled out in recent years. According to a
Statistics Finland Labour Force Survey, the average number of sickness absence days was 10
per employee in 2008. The corresponding figure for 2006 was 8.5. In 2008, the average
number of sickness absence days among employees of companies that were members of the
Confederation of Finnish Industries was 11 days per employee. In statistics compiled by
the Social Insurance Institution of Finland the same year, 16.3 million days were taken
off work as sick leaves lasting over nine days.
There are considerable occupational
variations in the number of sickness absences. The fewest, according to the Statistics
Finland Labour Force Survey, are in management, data processing, administration and
teaching. Most sickness absences occurred in childrens daycare, forestry work, the
postal service, dressmaking and tailoring, the chemical process and cleaning industries. A
working hour survey conducted by the Confederation of Finnish Industries showed that
manual workers in industry took an average of 15 sick days a year, clerical staff just
under 5 days, and manual workers and clerical staff in the service industries just under
11 days in 2008. According to a municipal sector follow-up study by the Institute of
Occupational Health ("Kunta10" study), most who fall ill in the municipal sector
are home helps and cleaners. Those off sick the least are doctors, specialists/experts,
managers and heads of department, and special subject teachers. Sickness absences among
municipal workers are no longer on the increase. Women are more frequently absent than
men; a difference which has only increased in recent years.
The most common reasons for long periods of
absence through illness are mental and musculoskeletal disorders. The Finnish Ministry of
Social Affairs and Health has encouraged workplaces to establish clear practices for
controlling sickness absences and the return to work. Nevertheless, there is little data
on the number of workplaces with viable practices in place for controlling this.
Increase in number of disability pensions granted due
to mental disorders, especially depression
A total of 272 000 Finnish citizens were
already on a disability pension in 2007, and 28 200 were granted one. Those suffering from
musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 29% of new disability pensions. The number of
these pensions granted due to mental disorders has grown since the end of the 1990s,
especially those for depression. In 2008, 34% of disability pensions were granted due to
musculoskeletal disorders, and 30% were granted because of mental disorders. A total of
38% of all those receiving a disability pension did so because of a mental disorders.
Although depression would not appear to be on the increase among the population in
general, the extent to which depression symptoms affect contemporary work life has grown.
Majority of employees believe they will remain fit
for work until retirement
The Work and Health Survey showed that around
three-quarters of the working-age population were of the opinion that they would be fit
for work in their present occupation until retirement. These opinions remained more or
less unaltered over the period of 19972009. Those who carry out physically more
strenuous work are less likely to believe they will be able to continue working until
retirement than those who perform office-type work. A good half of those of working age
have at least sometimes thought about taking early retirement.
More than half of those employed at the age
of 45 or over, would consider staying on at work beyond the age of 63 if their health
remains good (24%), they continue to be paid sufficiently well (23%), the work is
interesting and challenging, they have a say in what goes on at work, they receive
recognition for their work, and their job makes their life meaningful (20 %). A good third
would not continue for any reason. Compared to 2006, more people were prepared to consider
staying on at work.
One in seven employees with long-term illness
impeding work ability
In 2009, over a third (38%) of those employed
suffered from a long-term illness or lingering effects of an injury diagnosed by a doctor.
One in seven long-term illnesses (36%) caused employees some inconvenience at work. These
figures have remained almost the same since 1997. Managers and senior officials and the
transport, telecommunications, and business to business service sectors had fewer
employees with a long-term illness that caused problems at work, when compared to other
The most common work-impeding long-term
illnesses were musculoskeletal diseases. Around two-thirds of those employed said that
they had suffered from long-term or recurrent musculoskeletal symptoms in the previous
month. The most common complaints are to do with the neck and shoulders. Musculoskeletal
symptoms are most common among women, those in the service industry, sales and care work,
agriculture, forestry, and the health and social services sector.
Half of those employed had frequently
suffered form a psychological problem; women more often than men. Exhaustion was the most
(34%), and depression the least common (11%) of the psychological problems elicited.
Depression was more common than other problems in office work, customer services and the
financial sector. There was a decline in the incidence of psychological problems in the
2000s, though there was no change after 2006.
6 000 new occupational disease cases confirmed each
Around 6 000 cases of occupational or
suspected occupational disease are confirmed each year. The most common are noise
injuries, skin diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders caused by strain. The highest
proportion of occupational diseases is found among employees in the food industry.
Obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and
insufficient sleep all pose risk to work ability
According to the Work and Health Survey, the
percentage of the workforce who are overweight rose between 2006 and 2009. Obesity was
most common among men in the construction, agricultural, transport and telecommunications
sectors. The survey showed that 18% of women and 40% of men in employment were in the risk
group as regards alcohol consumption. One in six employed people slept no more than six
hours on working days: for men the figure was actually one in five, and for women one in
seven. Approximately half of the Finnish workforce exercised at least three times a week,
a number which has risen since 1997. One in four smoked, and a half had neversmoked.
Health risk management and promotion of workplace health
Slow progress in occupational safety and health
The Finnish Occupational Safety and Health
Act is relatively well-known at the workplace, but the way in which many of its basic
aspects have been implemented is still unsatisfactory. Managers, and others representing
the employer, still lack the competence to implement the requirements of the Act in a
practical way. Risk assessment has become a permanent feature of the development of
occupational safety and health at the workplace, but its visibility and influence on
management are still lacking.
Hardly any progress was made nationally in
occupational safety and health in the 2000s, when measured against trends in occupational
accidents and sickness absences. On the other hand, good examples of the impact of
improved occupational safety and health have also been set. Separate studies suggest that
workplaces are polarized as far as occupational safety and health are concerned. While the
best organizations are actively developing this area, the weaker ones are at risk of a
decline in standards.
Maintenance and promotion of work ability establish
position in workplace development
According to the results of the Finnish
Institute of Occupational Healths 2008 Barometer of Maintenance of Work Ability,
people were aware of the efforts made to maintain and promote work ability, and these
efforts were reasonable in terms of their quantity. According to the employers, more than
70% of those employed at workplaces with at least two members of staff had taken part in
at least some maintenance of work actitivities. The development of workplaces seemed
diverse, and comprehensively covered all the target areas for maintenance and promotion.
Respondents said that they firmly believed in
the economic benefits to the workplace of maintenance of work ability activities and that
they were very satisfied with the cost-relatedness of maintaining work ability. There was
also a desire and intention to invest resources in these activities in the near future.
Most of the respondents were of the opinion
that the amount of maintenance of work ability activities had become established. Larger
workplaces were more active. Maintenance of work ability at workplaces with fewer staff
had developed positively in many ways, but the respondents wanted to see far more in the
way of specialised development and support.
More private clinics involved in occupational health
A key phenomenon in the development of
occupational health care at the present time is the structural change in the service
system. Services and resources have been transferred to private medical centres, from
which almost half the population receive services. At the same time, the municipal (local
authority) system is working on its own changes. Municipal enterprises are big,
well-resourced units, enabling provision of good quality services.
The number of occupational health care units
has fallen since the start of the millennium, from around 1000 to 650; at the same time,
the number of private medical centres has increased by 11%. These centres have seen an
increase in the number of clients they cater for a rise of 200 000 between 2004 and
2008. Municipal occupational health care (occupational health care offered by the local
authorities) remains the sole service provider in 91 local authorities. Twenty-sevenlocal
authorities have outsourced their services to the private sector, while 16 municipal
enterprises have been set up. A total of 600 000 clients receive services from local
authority occupational health care units, and these are the most common provider of
occupational health services for small companies.
The Work and Health Survey suggests that the
overall coverage of occupational health services has remained at its former level (92% of
employees). The coverage for small organizations (19 staff) was also still at the
same level as in the early 2000s (63%).
Structural change has not had a great effect
on the functions produced. A total of 93% of employees with occupational health care cover
are also able to receive medical treatment as part of their occupational health care.
Patients consulted an occupational health care physician approximately twice a year. The
working conditions of one in two employees were examined closely, and in two-thirds of
cases, a health check had been carried out within the context of occupational health care
in the past three years. Nurses and physiotherapists tend to visit the workplace whilst
doctors are more likely to focus on medical treatment at the surgery/hospital.
Occupational health care has not succeeded in
becoming more preventive in nature, and its effectiveness is still not adequately
Occupational safety and health administration and
In 2008, in the Ministry of Social Affairs
and Healths Department for Occupational Safety and Health had 81 posts, and the
occupational safety and health inspectorates employed 498 staff. Every year, surveillance
is carried out at some 13 000 workplaces, about 5% of the total. Some 20 000 occupational
health and safety inspections were carried out. Approximately 97% of the sites monitored
employed fewer than 50 members of staff, and 85% of the inspections were carried out at
such companies. In 2008, 64% of occupational safety and health inspectorate resources were
used on surveillance on the initiative of the authorities, and 15% on the initiative of
clients. A total of 18% were used on administration and support measures. Industry and
construction were the main sectors inspected. As a result of regional governmental
reforms, from the start of 2010, five areas of responsibility of occupational safety under
Regional State Administrative Agencies will become regional occupational safety and health
authorities (formerly the Occupational Health and Safety Inspectorate Office).
Varying trends among sectors
The nature of work and the distribution of
the workforce are changing in Finland, along with increased employment in the service
industry and the decline in traditional jobs in industry, agriculture and forestry. When
comparing the size of the workforce in the main sectors, health care and social services
overtook industry in 2009. Over half of the production of Finnish forestry companies now
takes place outside Finland. Furthermore, mass production in ICT sectors, and the
manufacture of its equipment and programming are all continually being shifted to
countries where labour is cheaper. Finland now tends to focus more on research, product
development and new product design.
The recession in 2008 and 2009 affected the
volume of production in many branches of industry. Production in the forest industry
clearly fell in 2008. Jobs in the metal industry have increased in number in recent years,
but 2009 saw a downward trend in the turnover of companies, the number of new orders, and
the number of staff employed. The growth in production in the chemical industry also came
to a halt at the end of 2008. The number of those employed in the construction industry
has grown in recent years, despite the economic downturn in 2009 leading to a fall in
production and employment. The recession and the structural change in industry also
affected transportation adversely and led to uncertainty about the future of the transport
The number of jobs in the health and social
services sector, on the other hand, is rising steadily the whole time. The industry now
employs 15% of the Finnish workforce. Although it is mainly a public sector operation, the
number of private service providers grew in the 2000s. Now 28% of employed women in
Finland work in the health and social services sector, to which major structural and
functional changes have been introduced. These are linked to reforms in the municipal
Jobs in the public sector were typically
temporary. One third of employees in education and one quarter of those in the health and
social services sector was on a temporary contract of employment. Furthermore, atypical
working hours were common in the health ser-vice sector, but the number of those who did
shift work, for example, varied enormously from one area of the industry to another.
Around 80% of employees in homes for the elderly and in health centre wards worked shifts.
According to the 2009 Work and Health Survey,
there were still a great many of the old type of occupational safety and health risks in
industrial work, and many factors posing danger were often simultaneous. For example, in
the food industry, noise, the cold, heavy lifting operations, repeated identical
movements, pressure and draughts were all considered a problem. In branches of the metal
industry, noise and different types of dust were the major risk factors. Workers in the
metal industry also continued to be exposed to agents that posed a risk of cancer, most
commonly chromium(VI) and nickel compounds. Work in the metal industry often calls for
muscular strength and involves repeated movements and awkward working positions. On the
other hand, information technology wisas being increasingly used in the industry, and
almost everyone uses IT equipment such as microcomputers and data terminal equipment in
their job. Branches of industry prone to the risk of occupational diseases included the
manufacture of leather products, pulp and paper production, vehicle manufacture, food and
drink production, the manufacture of metal products, and mechanical wood processing. In
2007, there were 35 occupational accidents per 1000 employees that resulted in absences
from work lasting more than three days.
The corresponding accident rate in
construction was 74. Construction work is prone to all sorts of problems and is physically
exhausting. Typical negative factors included working above shoulder level, strenuous
manual work, and repeated movements. Builders also complained more often about dust, the
cold, draughts, noise and inadequate lighting. Occupational health care was available to
only 76% of workers, but this extended to medical treatment in only 67% of cases.
Remarks were made about the challenges facing
occupational safety and health in road transport. These included irregular working hours,
night work and long work commitments. The main health risks to drivers were irregular and
unhealthy eating habits and meal times, heavy smoking habits, obesity, and insufficient
physical exercise, which is linked to problems of remaining alert whilst working, sleeping
problems, and stress. They felt that they required the ability to work alone and make
decisions independently. Looking after valuable loads and being aware of work and traffic
safety meant that they had responsibilities. The physical strain of driving in traffic
abroad was aggravated by the threat of violence. Road transport has no systematic health
inspections, and driving ability is only generally assessed by means of age checks under
the EU Driving Licence Directive.
The survey revealed that pressure in the ICT
industry adversely affected nearly half of employees, and more than 60% reported that they
experienced continual interruptions at work. Over 30% felt that their job was either
fairly or very mentally stressful. The atmosphere at work in this sector, however, was
mainly motivating and stimulating. Multinational projects in which teams are made up of
people working in different countries influence working methods. Work mobility and
independence in terms of time and place were very common.
According to the survey, jobs in the health
and social services sector involved a great deal of mental and physical stress factors.
Pressure put a strain on employees and work was considered mentally stressful.
Satisfaction with the way in which work was managed and organized had declined. It seemed
that there were also fewer opportunities to influence how things were done. Opportunities
for having a say in working hours or the length of the working day were few. Jobs often
involved difficult or uncomfortable working positions, heavy lifting and repeated
identical movements. Fear of violence was rising, and violent situations at work were more
common than in other sectors. Despite the stress factors associated with the work however,
health and social services personnel were generally satisfied with their jobs. This was
largely due to the rewards and sense of satisfaction they gained from working with their
clients. The sector offers people the opportunity to enjoy success, and working with
clients and patients is experienced as pleasurable.
The survey showed that education was a more
stressful sector than any other. Situations that gave rise to negative feelings were more
common than elsewhere, which was also true of psychological violence and harassment, which
had doubled compared to 2006. Psychological violence and bullying mostly came from
co-workers, both superiors and subordinates (60%), but also from pupils or their parents
(40%). Many studies have found that there is scope for improvement in the maintenance of
school buildings and the ventilation of teaching areas, to acoustics, teaching aids and
furnishings. In addition, teachers often lacked a personal workpace and classrooms were
The post-war baby boom generation has reached
the age of retirement. Because younger age groups approaching working age are considerably
smaller, the total working-age population will clearly fall in the decades to come, and
the population dependency ratio will become far more unfavourable. The recession hits
Finland at an awkward time, because the employment rate should now be raised as high as
According to the data and studies presented
in this book, work is still an important value for Finns. Finnish people like working,
providing that they are physically able to. There is a more positive attitude to
continuing in employment beyond the age of 63, especially if the work is perceived as
meaningful, and age-related matters are taken into consideration at the workplace. What
matters most to Finns in their work is that the job is interesting, that they can work
independently, that they have good relationships with their co-workers, and that the
workplace atmosphere is generally good. Finns do not like to be treated unfairly or to be
humiliated. Nor do they like to be put under undue pressure to meet targets or suffer
inferior working conditions.
Experiences of efforts to develop work life in the 2000s show
that work ability and well-being at work can be improved in such a way that the measures
involved can be measured against tangible results: fewer accidents in companies,
investment in well-being at work to reduce absences and improve productivity, and higher
rates of employment for the economy. Neglecting the work ability and well-being of
employees is a short-sighted way to save money even during a recession, as social security
costs the economy dearly. Such neglect only serves to make it harder for companies to
recover when demand increases, as a skilled workforce has been lost and collaboration is
hampered by floundering work organizations. Occupational safety and occupational health
care are excellent forums for controlling risks and developing well-being at work, and
these should be exploited actively at the workplace at this moment in time.