The Occupational Safety and Health Act defines the obligations of those working at the workplace, regardless of the line of business. When purchasing services, i.e. subcontracting work, temporary agency work or working in a shared setting where mutual hazards are present, it is important to clarify the responsibilities related to occupational safety and health between the parties. Employers and independent contractors are obligated to cooperate in order to ensure safety.
When companies ordering or providing services operate in an international environment, they should be aware that they must follow the legislation of the country in which they are operating.
- A common workplace is a working environment shared by employees of different employers or independent contractors in a subcontracting relationship.
- At a common workplace, the management and supervision of work and the related employer’s obligations are the responsibility of each company’s own employer.
- The employer who orders services and exercises the main authority must ensure that the employees of external employers receive sufficient information on the hazard and risk factors at the workplace.
- The employer acting as the service provider must keep the client employer informed of the hazards and risks related to the work.
- At a common workplace, the right to manage work and the related responsibility remain with the employer providing the services. It must take care of the obligations related to supervision, working methods and tools.
- Provisions concerning common workplaces are laid down in Chapter 5 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which also contains separate provisions on the operating methods at common construction sites.
- Provisions on the organisation of cooperation on occupational safety and health at a common workplace are laid down in the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces.
Workplace of mutual hazards
- A workplace of mutual hazards is an undivided space, such as a shopping centre or office hotel, where different employers and contractors operate independently.
- A workplace of mutual hazards differs from a common workplace in that the operators are independent of each other.
- Those operating in an undivided space are obligated to engage in mutual cooperation and to inform each other of the hazard and risk factors they have discovered and their elimination, as well as of the coordination of the necessary activities.
Temporary agency work
- In temporary agency work, an agency contract worker works in the premises of a company other than their actual employer, i.e. a staffing service company, and under its management and supervision.
- Responsibility for occupational safety is divided between the staffing service company and the user company. Therefore, the importance of cooperation and mutual agreement is emphasised. The responsibilities must be defined when the agreement is drawn up.
- The employer providing hired labour is responsible for the employer’s basic obligations, such as organising occupational health care for its employees.
- The employer receiving agency contract workers is responsible for the conditions and circumstances of work at its own workplace.
- The employer providing hired labour ensures that the workers meet the competence requirements of the work that the receiving employer has indicated that it will have them perform.
Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chapter 6, Sections 49–55
The basic principles of common workplaces, the division of responsibilities and the obligation to provide information at the workplace.
The provisions apply to all workplaces, regardless of the line of business.
Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces, Chapter 5a, Sections 43a–43h
Provisions on cooperation at common workplaces, joint occupational safety managers and an occupational safety and health representative’s right to access a construction site when employed by an external employer.
Employment Contracts Act, Chapter 1, Section 7
Stipulates the following: “If, with the employee’s consent, the employer assigns an employee for use by another employer (user enterprise), the right to direct and supervise the work is transferred to the user enterprise together with the obligations stipulated for the employer directly related to the performance of the work and its arrangement. The user enterprise must provide the employee’s employer with any and all information necessary for the fulfilment of the employer’s responsibilities.”
Act on the Contractor’s Obligations and Liability
Promotes compliance with the terms and conditions of employment and creates the conditions in which companies can ensure that companies concluding contracts with them on temporary agency work or subcontracted labour fulfil their statutory obligations as contracting parties and employers.