Effects of ergonomic shift scheduling and COVID-19 pandemic on working hours and health in the social and health care sector

Working time arrangements affect health, safety, and wellbeing of the employees in the social and health care sector. In this research project, we investigate the effects of ergonomic shift scheduling, including the FIOH Working Time Traffic Light Recommendations, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and the renewed Finnish Working Time Act on working hour patterns, health, and safety.
Ergonominen vuorosuunnittelu, kuvituskuva.




The goal of the project is to investigate the use and effects of the shift scheduling software including the FIOH Working Time Traffic Light Recommendations as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the renewed Working Time Act on the changes of working hours, health, and safety. The outcomes include information of daily sickness absence and occupational injuries, and the perceived health and safety based on the biannual Finnish Public Sector (FPS) surveys. 

We will provide feedback to the participating organizations and policy makers on the annual trends in working hours in relation to the effects of the Finnish Working Time Act, COVID-19 pandemic, shift work, age, and sex. We will update the FIOH Working Time Traffic Light Recommendations for further use by working places and digitalized work scheduling applications linked to FIOH recommendations. The project also produces an algorithm-based internet application for assessing the accident risk related to the shift schedule. 

Data and methods

The research project utilizes working time data from the social and health care sector including daily working time and sickness absence data, as well as occupational injury data linked at individual level from altogether 17 hospital districts and cities between 2008-2022. The working time and sickness absence data is linked to the FPS study which covers approximately 220 000 employees and over 200 million workdays.

Our experts

Henkilökuva Mikko Härmä

Mikko Härmä

Mikko.Harma [at]
+358 30 474 2729

Research group

Jenni Ervasti

Olli Haavisto

Kati Karhula

Mika Kivimäki

Aki Koskinen

Mikael Sallinen

Jarno Turunen

Annina Ropponen


Finnish Work Environment Fund, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, CGI Finland Ltd, the participating hospital districts and cities


See also

Working time in the social affairs and health care sector

FIOH Working Time Traffic Light Recommendations (Link under construction)


Härmä M, Shiri R, Ervasti J, Karhula K, Turunen J, Koskinen A, Ropponen A, Sallinen M. National recommendations for shift scheduling in healthcare: A 5-year prospective cohort study on working hour characteristics. Int J Nurs Stud,2022; 134, 104321. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2022.104321 

Shiri R, Turunen J, Karhula K, Koskinen A, Sallinen M, Ropponen A, Ervasti J, Härmä M. The association between the use of shift schedule evaluation tool with ergonomics recommendations and occupational injuries: A 4-year prospective cohort study among healthcare workers. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2022; Nov 8;4068. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.4068

Turunen J, Karhula K, Ropponen A, Koskinen A, Shiri R, Sallinen M, Ervasti J, Pehkonen J, Härmä M. The Time-Varying Effect of Participatory Shift Scheduling on Working Hour Characteristics and Sickness Absence: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in Hospitals. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2022; 19(22), 14654. doi:10.3390/ijerph192214654.