18 May 2020

Updated 7 August 2020

These guidelines are meant for workplaces to support returning to work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exposure to the COVID-19 infectious disease can be limited with safe work practices so that returning to work can happen as safely as possible. If  the circumstances change, the employer must update their risk assessment and supplement workplace instructions and procedures, taking exposure to the COVID-19 infectious disease specifically into account. This means that the employer must

  • determine any harm and hazard related to the work and assess their significance to employees’ health and safety. The risk assessment must apply to all employees at all locations.
  • take measures to prevent hazards.
  • inform employees regarding matters that impact health and safety.
  • monitor the implementation of measures as well as changes in conditions.

The primary principle is to remove observed risk factors. If that is impossible, aim to minimise employees’ exposure and create contingency plans in case of exposure.

In co-operation with occupational safety and health

The company’s own occupational health services can provide support for assessing the risks involved with the COVID-19 infectious disease from a health perspective. Employees, occupational safety representatives and officers should also be heard about the changes to be made. Instructions by the government and other expert bodies provide examples for solving different types of issues.

Risk assessment and action plan

The risk assessment should take into account at least the following factors

  • Approach to returning to work and restarting operations
  • Ways of minimising physical contacts (clients, colleagues), keeping distances, need for protective equipment and the equipment to be used
  • Hygiene and general cleanliness, including that of work and client spaces and shared equipment
  • Organising working times and work shifts, the size of groups working together, possibly continuing the remote work
  • Ensuring sufficient resources and practices regarding substitutes and stand-ins
  • Meeting practices
  • Organising breaks and eating
  • Third parties that visit the workplace (necessary suppliers and other parties): hygiene, accessible area, access management and monitoring
  • Mental well-being and psychosocial risks
  • Returning to work after having COVID-19
  • Travelling

Once you have updated your risk assessment, use it as a basis for making an action plan which describes how conditions at the workplace will be organised in order to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

  • Create instructions regarding returning to work and any possible restrictions related to it
  • Make sure that everyone is informed about the updated instructions, including any other employers’ employees visiting the workplace.
  • Make sure that there is appropriate training, induction and guidance related to the updated instructions.
  • Encourage interaction and maintain active communications at the workplace regarding risks related to the COVID-19 infectious disease.
  • Inform employees about the services offered by your occupational health services.

Further information:

General guidelines

Managing remote work

Cleaning and hygiene

Personal protection

Absences and falling ill

Mental well-being

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s COVID-19 guidance: BACK TO THE WORKPLACE: Adapting workplaces and protecting employees

Further 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