Occupational Health in Finland


Finland’s occupational medicine activities begun to grow actively after the second world war. The ‘Labour safety act’ from 1958 stated that the employer is responsible for the health of the workers and health surveys became obligatory in hazardous workplaces. The ‘Supervision of the Labour Protection act’ in 1973 stated that workplaces with 20 or more employees must have an elected work safety committee, and workplaces with 10 workers or more have an elected work safety responsible. The ‘act on Occupational Health Services’ in 1978 finally opened the door for real preventive occupational health. The law was modified in 2001, when the maintenance of working ability became a new task for occupational health.

The specificity of occupational health in Finland is that employers can also offer curative services. More then 90 % of  employers offer these services. It means that every worker uses the occupational health services almost 2 times per year. Ththis gives This gives to occupational health the possibility of reacting rapidly in case of problems, and opens the possibilities to curative and vocational rehabilitation.

The coverage of occupational health is over 90% in big work places and over 60% in small workplaces (1-9 workers).


Population: 5,4million (2010), 68% employed (09.2009) ie. 2,4 million people

Number of doctors: 19 000 (283 inhabitants/doctor)

Number of doctors specialized in occupational health: 767 at age of work, (436 women). About 2,400 doctors in total are working in the field of occupational health, including those who work part time, are on the way to specialization, or work in curative care only.

In Finland we work in multidisciplinary teams: we have 2600 nurses, 700 physiotherapists, 300 psychologists, and 800 aides.

Nature of services:

Communal health services have the obligation to provide occupational health services for the employers in the community. This guarantees the distribution of services all over the country. Communal health services tend to work together with each other, creating bigger centres. The communal system takes care of about 29% of overall occupational health services.

The employer can have its own occupational health service. The tendency now is to use private services, however in-house services still make up 26% of the services.

The employers together collectively organize 6 % of all occupational health services.

The role of private occupational health centres is growing, they take care of 39% of occupational health services.



The minimum requirement for working in occupational health for under 20 hours per week is completion of a 7 weeks’ course organized by the Institute of Occupational Health, during the two first years of practice.

All others working in the field of occupational health for over 20 hours per week must have the specialization. A trainee doctor can begin to specialize in occupational health after completion of the 2 years of common education with all medical students (after 6 years theoretical medical studies). Specialization demands 2 years of occupational health work mentored by a specialized occupational doctor nominated by the university. Additionally 1 year in hospital is required in three different specialities, followed by ½ year training at the Institute of Occupational Health, and ½ year in a practice of assessment of work ability.

200 accredited points or hours of extra training are also required.


  • Prevention and Diagnosis of occupational diseases
  • Workplace visits and Risk Assessments
  • Counseling to the employers and employees
  •  Preventive and curative health care of employees, especially related to their work ability


  • Prevention and early treatment of mental diseases.
  • Sickness absence
  • Curative care in occupational health

Association: Finnish Society of Occupational Doctors
Suomen Työterveyslääkäriyhdistys ry
Kalevankatu 11 A, 00100 HELSINKI
Tel: 09 6188 5211
Fax: 09 6188 5260

The Finnish Society of Occupational Phycisians

or contact:
Satu Vaihkonen e-mail:
Kari Reijula