A workplace survey is the basis for occupational health activities

In a workplace survey, the occupational health services assess the significance of your company’s resources, work load factors and risks on your employees’ health and work ability. You will get proposals for measures – and an excellent basis for starting up the occupational health collaboration.

Purpose of the workplace survey

You know your work and your working conditions. The purpose of the workplace survey carried out by occupational health team is to look into how they impact your employees’ work ability and health and to provide proposals for measures to manage possible risks and work load factors.

In the process, your occupational health partner will get to know the work performed in your company and the working conditions and can take them into account in its operations and when planning the activities. They have an impact on, for example, the need to carry out health examinations, work ability assessments and rehabilitation.

By extending the assessment to factors that affect work ability, the occupational health services help you both pay attention to and target measures at work ability risks, i.e. factors that are essential for extending careers.

Different types of workplace surveys

Workplace surveys are divided into basic surveys and focused surveys. The first workplace survey is always a basic survey where the occupational health services take a stance on the risks, exposures and work load factors present at the whole workplace or in the whole unit. The occupational health services can repeat the basic survey or complement it as applicable based on the needs identified in the work and the work environment. In a targeted survey, occupational health professionals focus on looking into the impact of a specific risk, exposure or work load factor such as chemicals, physical work load or mental stress, on work ability and health.

When is a workplace survey carried out? 

A workplace survey is carried out 

  1. when the collaboration begins
  2. when the work or working conditions change significantly (for example, if you start up new production or build new facilities)
  3. when your occupational health partner considers that, based on information it has acquired, the stressorswork load factors and risks present in the work should be re-assessed.

As work and work environments constantly evolve, it is agreed in the action plan that workplace surveys must be complemented and updated frequently enough. This ensures that the information it contains is up to date and supports the planning and implementing of the activities.

Steps of the workplace survey

The steps of a workplace survey are agreeing on the survey, preliminary survey, workplace visit, reporting and feedback.

When occupational health collaboration starts, the occupational health services contact your company to agree on starting the workplace survey and the date of the workplace visit or visits.

A workplace survey begins with a preliminary survey, i.e. collecting preliminary data. The preliminary data is important for planning the survey. 

Your occupational health team

  • interviews you and the supervisors
  • asks to see the risk assessment you have made and any previous workplace surveys, and sometimes for instance list of chemicals and their safety data sheets
  • sends the preliminary survey at least to the supervisors and often also to the employees

Based on the preliminary survey, the occupational health team assesses which professionals need to participate in the workplace visit and which tools they should bring.


Occupational health professionals come visit your company’s location or locations. In most cases, the occupational health nurse and physician are present. The composition of the team depends on the work you perform. If physically strenuous work is involved, the team may include an occupational health physiotherapist. If your work involves psychological stressors, the team may include an occupational health psychologist.

The professionals look into what kind of health risks, exposures, work load factors and resources are present at your workplace and how they affect your employees’ health and work ability. To support the survey, they familiarise themselves with the results of the preliminary survey and interviews. They analyse what they have seen and heard at the workplace, carry out different measurements and write descriptions while also making use of, for example, chemicals lists, trade literature and specialist consultations.

You will always receive a written report on the survey. The workplace survey report describes the main resources, risks, exposures and work load present in your work and work environment and their impact on your employees’ health and work ability. The survey contains clear and concrete proposals for measures. You must also give the employees concerned by the workplace survey the opportunity to read the workplace survey report.

The occupational health services representative processes the conclusions and proposed measures together with you and the supervisors participating in the survey and other persons that you suggest. The implementation of the measures is the employer’s responsibility. Therefore, make sure you have a common understanding of the proposals. To get support for the implementation, you should discuss with the occupational health team the need for measures and plan the implementation method and schedule together. You can also organise a feedback event on the workplace survey for the entire personnel together with the occupational health team.

Together with your occupational health team you will incorporate the proposed measures into the occupational health action plan. Write down a concrete description of how you will implement and schedule the measures and monitor the impacts. The conclusions and proposed measures are useful not only to you and the supervisors, but also to at least the representatives of OHS, real estate and HR management. You can make the most of the time and money spent on the workplace survey by using the gained information and proposed measures actively to manage the work ability risk and maintain work ability in your company.

Participate actively in the survey and communicating it

The better your occupational health partner knows your company, the better targeted is the service you receive. Therefore, it pays to participate actively in carrying out the workplace survey. Follow these steps:

  1. Help your occupational health partner to acquire as much information on your work as possible. That will result in a more comprehensive and higher-quality workplace survey and better targeted services from your occupational health partner. 
  2. Arrange and schedule the workplace visit so that the occupational health team gets to see what ordinary work is like at your workplace. That allows the team to assess your work.
  3. Express your views and ask questions. That is the only way you can incorporate into the survey the aspects that are important for your company. 
  4. Show your employees, that the workplace survey will be carried out for their own good and for the benefit of the entire workplace. Show that you are interested in the proposals included in the survey. It makes your employees feel that you value them and their well-being and that you are ready to make changes to their work and work environment to maintain and improve their work ability.

Did you know?

The better your occupational health services know your company, the better targeted is the service you receive. The best way to make that happen is to participate actively in the workplace survey and ensure that the occupational health services get as much information on your work as possible.