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Meeting future needs of Finnish working life through a healthy workforce. 2009 International evaluation of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Bondjers G; Bongers P; Fingerhut M; Kauppinen T; Leka S; Schulte P; Taipale V; Uusitalo H
Reports of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, 2009 Jun; 27:1-327
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), a sectoral institute of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (MSAH), is highly regarded nationally and internationally as a leading institution in the area of occupational health. This report provides the assessment of an International Evaluation Group (IEG) of scientists who were requested by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland to evaluate policy relevance and innovation chain efficiency of FIOH. The 2009 International Evaluation Group ascertains that the FIOH has been radically transformed to better cover the needs of occupational health in Finland in the future. Most of the recommendations of the 2004 evaluation have successfully been put into effect. The process of transformation is not complete in 2009 and, therefore, some of the effects of changes are not yet visible. The present evaluation should be followed up within a minimum of at least five years but possibly even earlier. The International Evaluation Group (IEG) finds that the FIOH is poised to contribute to addressing the central critical issue of the economic productivity of Finland. While the country is in the upper echelon of nations in terms of productivity, it will be increasingly more difficult to raise productivity faster than other industrialized countries in the future. Productivity is at the core of Finland's viability and well-being, relying on the health of the country's economic structure and workforce. Labour productivity is affected by an ageing workforce and decreased time at work. The IEG concludes that the FIOH has effectively reorganized to focus on these critical issues, empowering staff, workers and employers to take action and to aid the decisions of various governmental authorities to improve productivity and well-being at work. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health is an established name as one of the world-leading institutes of occupational health. It has maintained and even reinforced this prominent position after the reorganization. The reorganization of the FIOH is driven by seven Strategic Goals that address the needs of the MSAH and the nation. The means for achieving these goals is the development of a new organizational structure. From being a traditional hierarchy, the FIOH has now changed into a matrix organization, composed of Centres of Expertise and directed by the Strategic Goals. The Centres of Expertise are organized in teams. In addition, the FIOH has established innovative organizational entities, Units of Excellence and Thematic areas, based on internal excellence as well as societal needs. The FIOH is commended for its new and innovative organization, which increases the ability of the FIOH to pursue the needs of Finnish working life. The Strategic Goals of the FIOH are: (1) The management of occupational health hazards at work as part of management practices and corporate risk management; (2) Innovative, regenerative and healthy work communities; (3) Each citizen equipped to ensure his or her occupational safety and well-being; (4) Providing authorities with information for promoting occupational safety and health; (5) Smoothly flowing work processes, safe and easy to use working methods and tools; (6) Solutions for increasing participation in working life; (7) Controlling new occupational hazards, exploiting new opportunities. All of the Strategic Goals are relevant, are based on the contract with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and are being pursued with vigour by the FIOH. The International Evaluation Group commends the high standard of the work in relation to the Strategic Goals. The client services of the FIOH are important, as they may be solely responsible for certain functions in Finnish Occupational Health as well as being a link between requirements for new knowledge in Finnish working life and research at the FIOH. Important results in the field of occupational health and safety have been produced that are used not only at national but also European and international levels. The work of the FIOH also contributes to the development of legislation, good practices, and standards. This is highly commendable. The Regional Offices of the FIOH have been better integrated in the Institute at large after the reorganization. The FIOH is encouraged to reinforce information and communication technology to decrease the need for physical travel and increase frequent quality contacts. The Regional Offices are important hubs for contact between the FIOH and enterprises in Finland and Regional Advisory Groups are important not only for the Regional Offices but also for the FIOH at large. Many of the client services are performed through the Regional Offices but are coordinated nationally following the reorganization. The international role of the FIOH is prominent and is valued by partners in the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), developed and developing countries. Finland's international standing is reinforced by these activities. In the general strategy of the FIOH, the Innovation Chain is a key component. The innovation chain is a way to conceptualize the process from research, via innovation to actual benefit for society. Through this concept, the FIOH is successful in the implementation of new knowledge in working life. The IEG commends the concept of the innovation chain and suggests even further reinforcement of research on the implementation process and evaluation of the impact of interventions. The FIOH has a number of partners in the goal to improve occupational health in particular and the health of the working population in general. The IEG encourages further increases in partnerships. The IEG is impressed by the FIOH as such and by the transformation process as it now stands. Some recommendations are provided by the IEG to the FIOH to assist the Institute to further reinforce itself. Having such a powerful knowledge centre in occupational health is a great competitive advantage for Finland and an asset to the occupational health of the world. The IEG concludes that the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has undertaken a successful transformation in accordance with the needs of society. This places the FIOH in a strategic position to address the future needs of working life in Finland.
Occupational-health; Occupational-medicine; Occupational-safety-programs; Author Keywords: comparative research; evaluation; international comparison; occupational health; reports; working life
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Reports of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Page last reviewed: January 28, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division