In-house occupational healthcare knows the company, the work and the people

Paulig is one of the few Finnish companies with its own occupational healthcare.

Paulig is one of the few Finnish companies with its own occupational healthcare. This practice dates back decades, when the plant had its own in-house nurse. Instead of adopting the modern trend of outsourcing, a decision was made at Paulig to continue to have occupational healthcare in-house for the future.

"I'm truly happy about this decision. It reflects the values and culture of a family company, and also that the welfare of the employees is genuinely important to the owners. Our history includes many other examples of this; one is that, during the war, employees serving on the frontline were paid the normal salary," explains Occupational Health Nurse Ulla-Maija Pesso. 'Ullis', who is a familiar figure to everyone at Paulig, recently retired after serving at Paulig as occupational health nurse for almost a quarter of a century.

Help close at hand in all circumstances

Paulig's Vuosaari roastery has its own occupational health clinic, where small medical procedures can be performed. An occupational health nurse is on duty daily and a doctor is present two days a week. In addition to statutory preventive occupational healthcare, employees are provided with comprehensive treatment as well as, if necessary, consultation and tests with a specialist physician. Paulig employees at the Tver roastery in Russia are also provided with comprehensive occupational healthcare and medical services in local health centres and hospitals.

"Having our own occupational health clinic is a good thing also for practical reasons. You can get to reception quickly during work, which lowers the threshold for seeking treatment in time. This means small ailments get treated before they can blow up into something bigger. Similarly, in various crises like epidemics or work accidents, help is always at hand," Ulla-Maija tells us.

Ulla-Maija sees it as a particularly big advantage that in-house occupational healthcare genuinely knows the company, the work and the people. "It's easier to talk to a nurse you know and we've also had the same doctor for more than ten years. We can understand on a completely different level the kind of factors that may be behind symptoms because we know the demands and content of the work done here so well.”

Work changes, occupational healthcare keeps up

Ulla-Maija has watched a revolution in working life from the welfare perspective and she has been with Paulig in times of dynamic growth and internationalisation.

"Both in manufacturing and office work, the job has changed. There is less heavy, repetitive, physical work in the plant and ergonomics have improved. It used to be the practice to sit in an office from eight till four, but today the job goes with you and work is done in different places and working days are different. The changes also bring challenges, one of which is balancing work with the rest of life. It can be harder to get away from the job and it can gobble up too big a piece of your life."

Retaining job fitness and recognising threats to it are among the core missions of occupational healthcare. Having occupational healthcare in-house makes it possible to find solutions more flexibly and faster in difficult situations or when sickness strikes. "Working capability isn't on-off any more, various options are looked at where work can be done at least part of the time. It isn't easy to replace expertise, and various flexible arrangements are in everybody's interest. Then we can consider together with the employee and the supervisor how the job can be changed. Work is a factor in promoting health, not only for the person themselves but also for the company and the whole of society," Ulla-Maija points out.

Listen to yourself

Increasing awareness of health issues in recent years has brought with it a lot of good, according to Ulla-Maija. "There's a lot less smoking, and also alcohol consumption is down, particularly among young people and in working life. I believe that workplaces' responsible personnel policies have had an important role in this. There's also more awareness of the importance of nutrition and exercise, and most people try to take care of themselves. However, overweight and the problems this causes are still a curse for us Finns."

Ulla-Maija points out that it's good to listen to your own body and the way you feel. "A person is always the best expert about themselves and their health – if you feel something's not normal, there's reason to find out what it is. Attitude is also an important part of wellbeing, noticing the good things at work and in the rest of your life gets you through difficult stages."

And what will the occupational health nurse do after retirement? "Lots of people have asked that and the answer is that I have no bigger plans. I'll leave doors open and see what life brings," Ulla-Maija says with a smile.



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