Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2002, page 23-38.
English resume

The regulation of the working environment in the Nordic countries.

Preben H. Lindøe

The article describes a "Nordic Model" of the labour market in terms of a collaborative model involving employers, employees and the government - a model in which collective agreements have a central role. According to this model, labour conflicts have been resolved in large part by introducing a comprehensive framework of laws and regulations. Within this framework, a specific Nordic Model for dealing with the working environment has been developed, which has been both innovative and future-oriented.

Four different perspectives have dominated the regulation of occupational health and safety throughout the years. During the first period of the last century, the efforts of authorities were mostly directed towards reducing accidents by means of regulation. After the Second World War, a strong social democratic government and powerful unions formulated the formal requirements of workers' participation in the labour force. A period followed in which the focus was on increasing the understanding of the environmental risks associated with new production systems. In the 1970's, the public administration took on a more modern look, and there began a transformation towards new and flexible forms of the regulation labour market participation which were aimed at more decentralised mechanisms of management and control.

The 1990s did not seem to represent innovation and gain in terms of learning or the transfer of knowledge when analysing occupational health and safety. Policy changes have been few if any, even if they were planned whilst the new regulations made in the 1970's were being accepted. On the contrary, the 1990's seem to represent a period in which countries have focused on developing internal principles concerning regulations rather than creating common Nordic standards.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt