Denmark: Measures to improve the working environment

Three measures to improve the working environment in Denmark have been agreed by parliament.

The Danish parliament has agreed a new bill containing amendments to the act that regulates occupational health and safety work. It has also concluded agreements to monitor more closely businesses with a high health and safety risk, and on funding to protect working environments.

Revision of health and safety act

The changes to the 2010 health and safety act were adopted on 22  January. The bill focuses particularly on businesses with bad working conditions and was backed by all parties in the Danish parliament except for the right wing party Liberal Alliance (LA).

It is the fifth revision of the act (in Danish) and introduces three key changes.

  • Harassment, both physical and virtual, and other work-related situations that can occur in an employee’s spare time are specifically targeted. This means that employers are now responsible for their employees’ working environment even when the employee is not actually working.
  • The Danish Working Environment Authority is authorised to have access to registers showing businesses with a high degree of absenteeism and other factors that can be related to a bad working environment.
  • Non-profit organisations will be free of certain formalities and administrative burdens: this is aimed at encouraging people to do more voluntary work.

The bill has been welcomed by The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). However, the public sector employers represented by Danish Regions has said that there have to be clear rules and some limits on what employers can be held responsible for (in Danish).   

New agreement on working environment

The Danish parliament also voted, in March 2015, for a new agreement on the working environment (in Danish). The overall aim of the new agreement is to increase the monitoring of businesses which have high health and safety risk (in Danish). The agreement sets out the Danish Working Environment Authority's powers to monitor and control businesses (in Danish). 

Previously, the authority targeted 55% of its unannounced inspections on businesses with high health and safety risks; the remaining 45% were random. The changes mean that 80% of unannounced inspections will target businesses in the risk group. Inspections will also be more detailed because the authority will have access to the national register for occupational accidents. More new companies will inspected to ensure that business owners with a poor attitude to health and safety do not continue bad habits when they create new companies. 

The new agreement has been welcomed by the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) and by the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)

Funds secured

Social partners also welcomed agreement on a DKK 135 million (€18 million) budget for the protection of the working environment (in Danish).  The agreement also ensures funding for the Danish Centre for Nano-security which researches how to improve risk assessment of nano particles.

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