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31 Efficiency of occupational health co-operation in small forestry enterprises
  1. M S Savinainen,
  2. Nyberg,
  3. Merivirta
  1. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Tampere, Finland

Abstract

In Finland, employers are obligated by law to organise and pay for OHS for their employees. In the agriculture and forestry industry, only 50% of employers have organised OHS. One reason for this low coverage is that forestry machinery and timber transportation enterprises are usually small. The other, and perhaps the main reason, is that the employers are not familiar with the different tasks of OHS. To assess the efficiency of occupational health co-operation, we need indicators and processes that illustrate co-operation.

Objectives The aim of this study was to clarify how co-operation is carried out, and how it is manifested in the actions of enterprises and occupational health units.

Methods Five forestry machinery and timber transportation enterprises (n = 5) and their OHS units (n = 5) participated in our study. Employers and employee representatives took part in theme group interviews (n = 5) and we interviewed the enterprises’ occupational health nurses (OHN) individually (n = 5). We also analysed OHS documents.

Results The interviews revealed that the main OHS tasks were individual work and health check-ups. Real co-operation between enterprises and OHS units was low. Both sides recognised a lack of knowledge concerning the other’s work or tasks. Co-operation between enterprise and OHS was rarely mentioned in the various documents. Risks assessments were not carried out, despite being legally obligatory for the enterprises. The main challenges for occupational health co-operation in this field were risk assessments and workplace surveys.

Conclusions In order to improve the effectiveness of occupational health co-operation, the employer and OHS must know each other well, agree on the objectives for their joint actions, and commit to them. Successful co-operation requires regular interaction.

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