Guidelines for workers to prevent coronavirus infection

In these instructions, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) offers advice for workers to prevent infection by coronavirus (COVID-19). It also contains advice on what to do if you suspect you have infected.

Updated 24 January 2021 These instructions will be modified as required as we obtain further information on COVID-19.

When is protection necessary?

Protection is important. The best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands often and properly. Try to keep a distance of more than 2 meters to clients and colleagues. When greeting other people do not shake hands.  Follow the your employer’s guidelines regarding safety, hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks and other orders and restrictions.  Download the App Koronavilkku to your phone.. Through the app, people exposed to the virus can be reached and infection chains can be stopped faster. See also the regional situation. It can be checked out here (Finnish institute for health and welfare, THL).  

How is coronavirus transmitted?

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) primarily spreads by droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings or speaks loudly. When in close proximity to others, coronavirus can also be transmitted via contact if, for example, an infected person coughs in his hands and then touches another person. Infection via aerosols in the air is possible inside a building but it is much less probable as the infection by droplets in close proximity to others.

Use the Koronavilkku

  • Download Koronavilkku Smartphone app to your phone. The Koronavilkku will let you know if you have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • If you have been infected you can inform about the infection anonymously via Koronavilkku. The use of Koronavilkku makes it faster to reach people who  have been exposed to the virus. See the instructions: App Koronavilkku 
  • It is recommended that you also tell your employer if your have been infected. This helps the employer to take care of the safety at the workplace and also fulfill the statutory obligations the employers have.
  • The primary precaution is remote work. If it is not possible to work remotely, other precautions need to be agreed at workplace. The surgical masks can be used especially at the health and social care.

What do I do if I suspect I have contracted coronavirus?

  • If you suspect a corona virus infection, contact you occupational health care unit a health centre. 
  • It is important to get tested for coronavirus if you have symptoms that suggest a coronavirus infection. Make a symptom assessment in the Omaolo service or contact your health care provider. In the feedback from this assessment, you will receive instructions on how to request a test and how urgently you should seek treatment.
  • Symptoms among coronavirus patients include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, muscle pain, fatigue, runny nose, nausea, diarhoea. Loss of the sense of smell and/or taste have also been reported as symptoms of a COVID-19 infection.

Follow your employer’s instructions regarding sick leaves

  • Contact your superior and tell them that you are sick. Tell also if you have COVID-19 infection in order to help you employer to protect other workers. If your employer wants a certificate from a physician, contact your occupational health services unit or health centre by phone or via the internet.
  • Keep some distance from your family members if possible. If you need to be close to them use face mask if possible. Wash your hands frequently and use your own towel. Clean the door handles, taps and other surfaces often. Wash the cleaning cloths and bedclothes in 90 Celsius degrees programme.
  • Use paper handkerchiefs and throw them away immediately after using them.
  • Do not welcome visitors while you are sick.
  • If you cough, cough into a handkerchief or your sleeve. Do not cough into your hands.

What can I do to avoid infection?

  • Follow the regional and official instructions to keep yourself updated on the latest recommendations.
  • Follow all the instructions given by your employer.

Keep distance  

  • When greeting do not shake hands.  
  • Work remote if possible.   
  • Keep a distance of more than 2 meters from other people whenever possible (not your own household). 
  • Avoid working closely with  other people.   
  • If you work in a small team, keep working with the same team. and have also the coffee breaks with the same team. 
  • Keep away from people who cough or sneeze.


  • Clean the commonly used equipment  by wiping it with soapwater or a detergent containing a with disinfectant.  If possible, use disposable gloves, when working with shared devices.  You can protect the controls and keyboard of a shared device with disposable plastic which you should place in the waste bin after use. 
  • Try to keep at least a distance  of at least one meter from people who cough or sneeze.
  • Keep your hands clean. Always wash your hands when you arrive at work, before eating and smoking or using snuff, and when you leave work.
  • The best way to wash your hands is to use soap and warm water. See Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s Hand Washing Video. (in Finnish).
  • Only use hand sanitizer as an extra precaution or if you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, unless you have been instructed otherwise at work.
  • When using a sanitizer, use enough to be able to rub it all over your hands thoroughly.
  • If using disposable gloves, remove them without touching their outer surface: Correct removal of disposable gloves. (in Finnish).
  • Do not touch your mouth or nose area with protective gloves or dirty hands.
  • Wash your hands after removing protective gloves.
  • Instructions: Hand washing and coughing (THL)
  • Washing hands frequently can cause problems with skin e.g. too dry skin. Take good care of your hands.


  • Follow the travelling instructions of your employer. Agree on the work arrangements with your employer if you are working in health care sector or you return to Finland from a country having restrictions. See the Finnish Border Guard web site for detailed information.
  • Volontary quarantine of two weeks is recommended for all those coming to Finland from countries with restrictions. The Government will reassess the decisions concerning restrictions on border traffic in every two weeks and make new decisions if necessary. See the instructions and restrictions of the Finnish Border Guard and  the Government and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs  
  • See also the instructions of the THL - there you can also find information on volontary  quarantine.
  • The restrictions concerning travelling for work are a different from the instructions concerning travelling in free time. You can see the detailed information on the Finnish Border Guard website. 
  • If you travel abroad, make a travel announcement (matkustusilmoitus).
  • Try to use public transport outside rush hours.
  • Walk or use e.g. you bike when possible.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) 

  • If your employer tells you to wear face masks, visors, surgical masks or other personnel protective equipment (PPE), you need to use them according to the law. The employer will give you the PPEs free to you. Use them and take care of them according to the instructions.
  • In other times follow the recommendation for face masks of THL. Do not forget the safe distances when using face masks.
  • If you cannot use a face mask because of your health or job, use a visor.
  • The mask can be polluted, if you use the mask without taking care of the hand hygiene or there has been an infected person close to you. That is why the face masks are disposable and are used  during shopping or at work from break to break.
  • The mask can be used several time only if they are washable. Wash a cloth mask in a hot cycle (60 °C  in minimum, but preferably 90°C) or boil it for five minutes in water with a small amount of detergent. Rinse and dry the mask in a place with fresh air.
  • Put on the face mask or PPE with clean hands. Do not touch the face mask while wearing it. When you take off the mask, do it with clean hands and do not touch the outer surface of the mask itself. Wash or disinfect your hands after taking off your mask. Put the used masks in mixed waste.
  • The expenses caused by the masks used during the trips between home and work place can be deducted form the taxes.
  • Working in heat. Especially working in heat must be taking into consideration when using and selecting the Personnel Protective Equipment during the hot summer days. The employees need breaks once an hour and they need to drink a lot of water. Working in heat (in Finnish) 

When returning to work

  • Follow the instructions of your employer when returning to work after travel, quarantine, remote work or sick leave
  • Avoid physical contacts and follow the instructions concerning hand and coughing hygiene. Remember to keep a distance of more than 2 meters to other people also during the breaks.
  • Prefer virtual trainings and meetings.
  • Follow carefully the THL Face mask recommendations.
  • Be prepared to new rules regarding safety distances, face masks and organization of breaks and working hours at work.

Health care professionals

See the following Instructions Instructions for health care professionals  (in Finnish, THL) Instructions for Occupational Health Care Personnel (in Finnish and Swedish, FIOH) Instructions for the Home Care Personnel (in English, Finnish and Swedish) Instructions for Dental Care Personnel (In Finnish THL) Latest updates on Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) website. Further information please contact viestinta [at] (viestinta[at]ttl[dot]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

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