Danish companies with high accident rates avoiding workplace inspections

Researcher: So many accidents should lead to inspection visits

Earlier this month, the trade union 3F published a list of the companies in Denmark where there are the most workplace injuries, but some of the companies in the top ten will not be inspected by the working environment authority Arbejdstilsynet.

READ MORE: Trade union 3F publishes Denmark’s first workplace injury rankings

Fagbladet 3F, the union’s trade magazine, reports that those companies with a working environment certificate, or so-called crown smiley, are not regularly inspected by Arbejdstilsynet, even if a lot of accidents are registered there.

“Arbejdstilsynet presupposes that companies that have a working environment certificate to a great extent can and will solve their working environment problems themselves,” the authority states on its website.

“That means that companies with a working environment certificate shouldn’t have risk-based supervision.”

Problematic policy?
Peter Hasle, a professor at Aalborg University who is a labour-market researcher, considers the policy problematic.

“It should be the case that companies that get a certificate don’t do it to avoid inspections. That is a very negative motivation that doesn’t set the stage for making a good effort for the working environment,” he said.

“When they have so many work-related injuries it should lead to inspection visits, so it is ensured that things are under control.”

But Anette Lerche, an office head at Arbejdstilsynet, said that despite there not being automatic inspections, companies with the crown-smiley can still be inspected.

“It’s true that the companies don’t get risk-based supervision, but if there are complaints, or if there is an accident, we can visit the company,” she said.

“If the conditions are not up to standard, they get a yellow or red smiley and lose the crown smiley, which they will only get again when the conditions are in order.”