Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

Working paper in Studies of Organization and Society,
University of Gothenburg, Studies of Organization and Society, Department of Business Administration

No 2008:1: The role of health and safety representatives in Sweden – The implementation of EEC Directive 89/391

Björn Trägårdh ()
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Björn Trägårdh: Studier av organisation och samhälle, Postal: Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Handelshögskolan vid Göteborgs universitet, Box 610, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

Abstract: In Sweden, workers´ representatives have been involved in risk assessment at workplaces since the beginning of the 20th century. One of the main results is the development of a large net of health and safety representatives called “skyddsombud”; regional safety representatives (RSR) on many small workplaces and joint safety committees on large workplaces. One result of EU Directive 89/391 in Sweden seems to be a further development of both regulations and praxis, i.e. regulation AFS 2001:1 and the development of systematic work environment management (‘SWEM’). However, since the 1990’ies there has been some serious cutbacks. The report demonstrates a gap between a lack of praxis implementation and what is stated in EU Directive 89/391. The implementation of the Directive is normally weaker due to lack of control and workers’ representation in certain industries, as in the construction industry or in small companies with few or no organized workers and/or with foreign workers. Health and safety work still seems to be controversial. Trade unions worry about too little implementation of the Directive and want EU to step up their efforts, while employee organizations worry about too much implementation and warn for ‘gold plating’. Built on these findings, a neo-institutional analysis is made claiming to explain the results. The report ends with some policy recommendations.

Keywords: risk assessment; health and safety representatives; skyddsombud; EU Directive 89/391; implementation; neo-institutional analysis.

18 pages, June 9, 2008

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