Finland: New COVID-19 risk assessment instructions for construction sites
The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT, the Finnish Construction Trade Union, Trade Union Pro and RAKLI have partnered with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of the Environment in developing new instructions for employers to conduct risk assessment of COVID-19 infections at construction sites and other similar workplaces.
This complements a survey currently being conducted by the BWI-affiliated Rakennusliitto to assess the occupational health and safety risks, including COVID-19 risks, at construction sites. Rakennusliitto said that the results of the survey will be publicly published and used to develop an OHS strategy in the construction industry.
The instruction guide specifically assigns the responsibility of conducting a general risk assessment to the main contractor of a construction site. Everyone working at the construction site must follow the assessment-based measures, with employers urged to assess the risks of their operations.
The instruction provides guidelines that support risk assessment. It focuses on the prevention of workers’ exposure and what to do in the event of a possible exposure or infection or when an occupational disease is suspected. It is intended for all construction industry workplaces where employees may be exposed to COVID-19.
Construction industry employers must assess the personnel’s risk of COVID-19 infection at work and in other workplace situations, such as during breaks. In the event of a COVID-19 infection, the workplace’s risk assessment must be updated and the protective measures must be improved, if necessary. During an official quarantine, the exposed and/or infected worker must not go to work. A worker officially placed in quarantine is entitled to sickness allowance on account of an infectious disease.
The employer should also encourage employees to manage COVID-19 risks also outside the workplace and the working time, in shared transport and shared accommodation, for instance. The key issues are keeping a safe distance, practising good hand hygiene and wearing surgical masks, just as at the workplace.