Dozens of Helsinki midwives take hospital to court over chronic air-based illnesses

With help from their union, 24 midwives filed a legal suit against the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, claiming a total of 840,000 euros in damages.

Twenty four midwives from Helsinki's now-defunct Kätilöopisto Maternity Hospital are suing the administration that ran it after it refused to pay compensation for chronic illnesses the midwives claim they suffered, allegedly caused by poor air quality at the facility.

The midwives are carrying out the lawsuit with the assistance of Tehy, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland.

The midwives are each claiming some 35,000 euros - for a total of 840,000 euros - in compensation for work-related illnesses they claim they suffered while working for the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), which operated the maternity hospital.

Tehy's mediation manager Riikka Rapinoja said the hospital neglected to protect its workers.

"We believe the employer neglected its occupational safety duties when it allowed employees to work in areas that caused them illness and permanent damage," Rapinoja said.

Three of the 24 midwives have received diagnoses of workplace-caused illnesses; medical assessments which were verified during legal proceedings.

"The compensation demands for all of the 24 midwives still stand, but in the first step of the legal process we're focusing on the three diagnosed [plaintiffs]," Rapinoja said, adding that she hopes a precedent is set in the case.

"We want to reverse a ruling by the Supreme Court that threw out a lower court's decision to compensate a similar group of plaintiffs," Rapinoja said, referring to a case from 2016 involving three midwives who said they fell ill from mould issues while working at a facility in Karleby, in western Finland.

The new lawsuit has the largest number of plaintiffs who have collectively sought compensation for indoor air-based illnesses.

Breathing problems

Jenni Haapanen, who worked as a midwife for 15 years - and was one of the workers affected by indoor air problems at the Helsinki Maternity Hospital - said her symptoms started in 2015.

"I had trouble breathing and now I am seriously ill, I have asthma. I'm on sick leave now, but hope to be able to work again," Haapanen said, adding that she'll likely change employers when she does return to work.

"We have to take better care of workers. I do not think that HUS adequately addressed the indoor air problems. They tried to hide it. The problem has to be taken care of better," she said, adding that she's hopeful about the trial.

"It feels good. It's clear that HUS made mistakes. Indoor air problems are a big issue across the country. It will be a long legal process but I hope one day to receive compensation for the health problems caused at [my workplace]," Haapanen said.

yle.fi
Helsinki chronic air-based illnesses
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in february
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Society
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
Society
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
Society
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Society
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
Society
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Society
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
Society
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Society
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....