OSH IN NORWAY

OSH IN NORWAY

Recently, we have often come across news about accidents at work. According to a report, presented by Arbeidssilsynet, as many as 27 people died in workplace accidents in Norway in 2017. This figure shows that employers and their employees often do not know or disregard health and safety regulations.

Familiarising employers and employees with health and safety rules will help to prevent further accidents at work, or at least reduce the number of accidents.

In this article, you will find out, among other things, what the employer's and employee's obligations are, what the employer should ensure when hiring a new employee, how to carry out internal inspections and how to assess occupational risks.

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H&S TRAINING OBLIGATION FOR EMPLOYERS

The Norwegian Labour Code makes it mandatory for employers to have HMS (helse, miljø og sikkerhet) training. This also applies to those who give contracts to their subcontractors.
There are many rules specific to certain industries, but a Norwegian entrepreneur does not need to know them all. It is sufficient for him or her to familiarise himself or herself with those that apply to his or her field and those that he or she deems necessary. Acquiring such knowledge on one's own would certainly take a lot of time, which business owners cannot usually afford. Health and safety training courses are provided so that an entrepreneur in Norway becomes familiar with health, safety and environmental issues. Anyone who runs a business in Norway and gives people work should be familiar with the general principles of occupational health and safety. Norwegian health and safety courses are primarily based on the recommendations of the Labour Inspectorate. Upon completion of the training, each participant receives a personal certificate.
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SAFETY AT WORK

Work is a place where a lot of time is spent, so it is important to be safe there. Both the employer and the employee should anticipate possible risks, but it is the employer who has the greatest responsibility for what happens in his company.

The third chapter of the Norwegian Labour Code (Arbeidsmiljøloven) sets out the requirements for safety at work in detail. An example is § 4-3, which states that physical conditions at work, such as lighting or temperature, should be at such a level that they do not endanger the employee's health. Another example is § 4-4, which notes that any equipment and machinery used at work, must have adequate safeguards.
An occupational risk assessment is used to detect hazards in the workplace. The more the employer is aware of them, the more he can do to improve worker safety in his company.
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HOW TO ASSESS OCCUPATIONAL RISKS?

Each industry has its own specific characteristics and therefore different risk factors. The same is true for companies. Each is different, each has its own characteristics that are specific only to it. Therefore, in order to assess a company's occupational risk well, it must be approached on an individual basis.

[Infographics] [4 GROUPS OF ACTION CAN HELP in assessing occupational risks: Analysis of the company's current state. Analysis of the incidence and severity of risks. Prevention of risk occurrence. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the changes implemented.]

First: Analysis of the company's current state

The owner of a Norwegian company should consider what risks may affect an employee in his or her company. It is also a good idea to visit all premises, look at them carefully and take notes. The employees themselves can provide valuable information. They are the ones working in the premises, so they can see more. To assess the risks in the workplace more accurately, the employer should consult the manuals of the equipment and machines that are there. It is important to consider what illnesses may be associated with a particular place or workplace. It may be important to check what injuries or accidents have already occurred in the company.

In summary:

[Infographic] [THESE ARE THE ACTIONS THE EMPLOYER SHOULD TAKE TO ANALYZE THE CURRENT STATE IN THE COMPANY: A walk around the company to inventory the places and factors that are dangerous for workers. Gathering information from workers on what the hazards in the company might be from their point of view. Familiarising themselves with equipment and machinery manuals. Thinking about what diseases a worker may be exposed to in a particular place or workplace. Recalling what accidents have already occurred in the company].

Places where an injury or accident may occur should be clearly marked and dangerous substances well described.
Secondly: Analyse the frequency of occurrence of risks and their severity.
The Norwegian entrepreneur should look back to the past and recall how often accidents have occurred in his company. On this basis, he can assess whether a situation is likely to happen again and whether everything has been done to prevent it in the future.
A certain risk classification can also be created for this purpose:
  • very often (e.g. once a week),
  • frequently (e.g. several times a year),
  • rarely (e.g. once every 2 years),
  • never (not likely to happen).
This classification will allow the Norwegian entrepreneur to take preventive action quickly in those areas that are most at risk.

In addition to the risk assessment of the workplace, it is also necessary to look at the people who work there. This is to verify which employees may be at risk. Are they individuals or groups of individuals? Which occupations are affected by the risk? Could the risk also affect people living in areas close to the establishment?

This is where a different risk classification can be helpful:
  • Low risk - when the consequences of an incident are only bruises, minor abrasions or lacerations.
  • Intermediate risk - when the consequences are more serious, e.g. damage to property or injury.
  • High risk - when the consequences are, for example, fractures, loss of consciousness or very costly damage to property.
  • Catastrophic risk - when the consequences are death or disability.

[Infographics] [NORWAY'S LABOUR LAW ENFORCES BUSINESSES TO PROVIDE SPECIAL PROTECTION FOR THE FOLLOWING PERSONS: workers with little experience, pregnant women and nursing mothers, young workers, subcontractors, technicians called in for repairs, visitors to the establishment, passers-by]

Third: Prevention of risks

Once the company has analysed the risks, it is important to think about the prevention of possible incidents. Knowing what has already been done in the past, the owner of a Norwegian company needs to think about what else he can do to improve the safety of his employees and the security of property.

[Infographics] [PLANNED ACTIONS FOR IMPROVING SAFETY IN THE COMPANY SHOULD AIM AT: Eliminate the risk completely or at least reduce it to a minimum. Mitigating the consequences if a dangerous situation already occurs. Compliance with legislation. Sticking to standards, industry recommendations and proven, established methods. Providing the company with appropriate safety precautions, such as warning labels in dangerous areas or instructions for the use of equipment and machinery. Organising appropriate training for employees].

Fourth: Evaluating the effectiveness of the changes implemented
A Norwegian entrepreneur, aware of the risks and making appropriate changes to improve safety in his/her company, should constantly monitor the situation.
This means revisiting the above steps from time to time , thus analysing the present and the past and answering the question: is what has been done so far sufficient? Can something else be done? It is important to prioritise.

The following groups of factors should be considered when prioritising:
  • the most hazardous to the worker,
  • the most frequent,
  • those that pose a threat to the worker's health,
  • those that pose a threat to the company's property.
The entrepreneur should determine how often he/she will carry out a risk assessment in his/her company and stick to the deadlines set. After the next assessment, changes should be made accordingly. It may help to ask yourself the following questions:
  • Has everything that was planned to improve safety in the company been done?
  • Did these measures have the desired effect?
  • Could anything else have been done?
  • Has anything changed since the last assessment?

[Infographics] [ASSESSMENT OF PROFESSIONAL RISKS SHOULD BE DOCUMENTED. THERE ARE FORMS FOR THIS: Risk source matrix - Grovmatrise. Risk assessment diagram - Risikodiagram. Hazard analysis sheet - Analysekjema. Action plan - Handlingsplan]

HAZARD SOURCE MATRIX - GROVMATRISE

In the horizontal boxes of the Hazard Source Matrix, the sources of the hazards are entered. In the vertical boxes, the stage of occurrence, construction, site or function is entered. We then mark the hazards as follows:
  • the letter X indicates those sources which, in combination with the stage of occurrence, construction, site or function, are relevant to the risk,
  • the letter O indicates those sources which, in combination with the stage of occurrence, construction, site or function, could be relevant for the risk.
RISK ASSESSMENT DIAGRAM - RISIKODIAGRAM
The risk assessment diagram is used to determine which action to take at the earliest.
The vertical boxes indicate probabilities, while the horizontal boxes indicate consequences. Every so often (e.g. every 5 years), one needs to establish for oneself what is meant by low, medium and high probability and assign a level of risk according to the facts. The probability level is then added to the consequence level.
Probability can be:

Large = 3

Averages = 2

Small = 1
The consequence could be:

Large = 3

Averages = 2

Small = 1
Probability
Large 4 5 6
Averages 3 4 5
Small 2 3 4
Small AveragesLarge
Consequences
Example:
Average probability + Average consequence = 2+2 = 4.

[Infographic] [IF THE RISK ASSESSMENT DIAGRAM RESULTS: > 6 - then the risk is high and you need to act quickly, > 4-5 - then the risk is medium and needs to be addressed immediately after action on the high risk, > 2-3 - then the risk is low. If everything is legal, then no action is needed].

RISK ANALYSIS SHEET - ANALYSEKJEMA

The hazard analysis sheet is drawn up on the basis of the Hazard Source Matrix (Grovmatrise) and the Risk Assessment Diagram (Risikodiagram). The source of risk is identified by looking at the number in the horizontal and vertical boxes of the Hazard Source Matrix, e.g. 1.3 (first horizontal box and third vertical box). Then look at the probability of that risk occurring and what the consequences might be (high, medium or low).

The risk analysis can start from point:

A - harm to people,

B - damage to the environment,

C - material/economic damage.

ACTION PLAN - HANDLINGSPLAN

The next step is to fill in the action plan sheet (Handlingsplan).

[Infographic] [HANDLINGSPLAN SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION: the number of the hazard to be reduced or eliminated (starting with the one with the highest priority), hazard identification, the action to be taken to reduce or eliminate the hazard, date of implementation, person responsible].

The next risk assessment will show whether all measures have been carried out and whether they have had the intended effect. You should check whether those risks that were marked as low in the previous assessment have become more dangerous. It is also necessary to consider whether any new risks have arisen since the last assessment.

Internal audits - Internkontroll

An internal protocol (Internkontroll) is a document that provides a valuable source of information on risks in the company. It can be drawn up in-house or an external company can be used, which is not a big problem in Norway. This is undoubtedly a considerable cost, but well worth it, especially if there are a large number of risks in the company. Internkontroll helps the employer to plan and take action to improve safety in the enterprise.

At the end of the course, each participant has the opportunity to download the Internkontroll printout and other necessary materials.
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OBLIGATIONS OF THE EMPLOYER

The Norwegian Arbeidsmiljøloven Act imposes the following obligations on the employer:
  • to participate in health and safety training (§ 3-5),
  • to recognise and register risks at work,
  • assessing the risk of damage and accidents,
  • eliminating any shortcomings and errors and continuously reducing the risk of accidents,
  • providing workers with a safe working environment,
  • taking action and financing measures to improve safety,
  • ensuring that every employee:
    • is aware of the risks in the workplace,
    • has received appropriate training,
    • is provided with protective clothing, utensils and equipment when their position requires it to enhance safety at work,
  • cooperating with health centres when there are increased risk factors in the enterprise,
  • ensuring that the provisions of Arbeidsmiljøloven are implemented and complied with.
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SAFETY REPRESENTATIVE HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVE

The health and safety representative (Verneombud) is the person responsible for, among other things, the following:
  • training of employees in health and safety in the company,
  • availability of health and safety equipment,
  • the availability of work clothes and safety equipment or articles (e.g. welding visors or dust masks),
  • ensuring that machinery and equipment used in the company do not endanger the health and life of workers,
  • ensuring that chemicals are stored properly and used as recommended by the manufacturer,
  • stopping the work if it is dangerous,
  • organising work in such a way that the principles of health and safety are maintained.
The health and safety representative's specific duties are set out in § 6-2 Arbeidsmiljøloven.
A health and safety representative should be in every major company. Companies with more than 10 employees are required to appoint someone to fulfil this role. The employer must send such a person to HMS representative training and pay for it.
If the company has a shift system, there should be enough such people to have a safety representative on each shift. Small companies - which have fewer than 10 employees - can agree in writing not to have such a person.
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EMPLOYEE

Employing an employee

The HMS training for employers talks about employing workers. This is valuable information especially for people who have never hired anyone before.
The Norwegian Labour Code Arbeidsmiljøloven sets out the general rules for hiring employees, but it is important to remember that every industry is different and you need to adapt to the rules in that industry as well.
[Infographic] [IN THE EMPLOYEE HOSPITALITY TRAINING PART, the following topics are covered: types of employment relationship, employee documentation, working time, holidays and other rest periods, the cost of employing an employee, bullying, termination of employment and related documentation].

You can read more about hiring employees in our Company in Norway section.

Responsibilities of the employee

The employee's health and safety duties include:
  • informing the employer of illnesses and/or injuries incurred at work,
  • informing the employer of absence from work (e.g. sick leave),
  • using equipment that provides protection at work,
  • stopping work if the employee considers it too dangerous,
  • reporting perceived hazards at work,
  • reporting behaviour such as discrimination or harassment at work,
  • following the recommendations of the Labour Inspectorate,
  • engaging in dialogue with the employer.
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LEGISLATION CONCERNING HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK

Information on OSH legislation in Norway is contained in four key documents:
  1. Arbeidsmiljøloven - this is an Act that talks about, among other things, the working environment, employment protection, or working time. It indicates ways to improve working conditions and elements that affect working comfort, both physical and mental. Arbeidsmiljøloven applies to all enterprises except fishing, shipping and hunting.
    The objectives of the Act include:
    • the development of the enterprise and the retention of work by employees,
    • compliance with health and safety regulations in the workplace, in order to protect the health and lives of employees,
    • a sense of equality for employees within the company,
    • the possibility to make changes to employment if the employee's personal situation so requires.
  2. Hjemmelsregisteret – this is a register that contains the legislation that applies to various industries.
  3. Forskrift om unntak fra arbeidsmiljøloven for visse typer arbeid og arbeidstakergrupper – is a collection of information for different types of work and employees. It also deals with exceptions.
  4. Forskrift om arbeidsmiljølovens anvendelse for personer som ikke er arbeidstakere – this is a collection of information for persons who are not employees.
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FAQ

I OBLIGATION FOR EMPLOYERS TO HAVE SAFETY AND HEALTH TRAINING

Does a Norwegian employer have to have health and safety training?
Yes, it is an obligation for anyone who employs people as employees or subcontractors.
Does a Norwegian entrepreneur need to know the regulations for each industry?
He does not need to. It is sufficient that he/she is familiar with those regulations that apply to his/her type of business.
Upon completion of the course, does the employer receive a document confirming participation in the health and safety training?
Yes, each participant, at the end of the training course, receives a personal certificate.

II SAFETY AT WORK

Which chapter of the Norwegian Labour Code (Arbeidsmilj?loven) deals with safety at work?
The third chapter of the Norwegian Labour Code (Arbeidsmilj?loven) sets out in detail the requirements for safety at work.
What should an employer do to detect hazards in his company?
In order to detect hazards in your company, you need to carry out an occupational risk assessment, i.e. look at your company and think about what an employee may be exposed to in your place. Then you need to remind yourself if there have been any accidents before. If there have been, ask yourself whether the risks have been eliminated. The next step is to take measures to prevent further accidents at work. Finally, it is analysed whether everything has definitely been done to make the company safe.
Are there ready-made forms that make it easier for the entrepreneur to carry out an occupational risk assessment?
Of course. There are four helpful forms: the Hazard Sources Matrix, the Risk Assessment Diagram, the Hazard Analysis Sheet and the Action Plan.

III EMPLOYER'S OBLIGATIONS

What are the employer's OSH obligations to the employee?
The employer must provide the employee with OSH training, ensure that the employee is aware of the risks in the workplace and must provide the employee with adequate protection in the form of, for example, protective clothing.
What else are the employer's OSH obligations?
The employer must keep a register of hazards, recognise possible risks and eliminate them, finance measures to improve safety and cooperate with health centres if there are increased risk factors in the enterprise.

IV HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVE HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVE

Must there be a health and safety representative in every company?
There must be a health and safety representative in every company that has more than 10 people.
Does the health and safety representative have to cover the course costs himself?
No. All costs related to the Health and Safety Representative course are covered by the employer.
What responsibilities does the health and safety representative have?
The health and safety representative has the following duties: to train the other employees in health and safety. Ensure that the company has all the necessary health and safety equipment and protective clothing. Ensure that machinery in the company does not endanger the life and health of employees. Ensure that chemicals and hazardous substances are properly labelled and used as intended. Stop work if it is too hazardous, and organise work in such a way that health and safety regulations are complied with.

V EMPLOYER

Are issues related to the employment of employees discussed in the health and safety training for employers?
Yes, this topic is covered in the health and safety training for employers. It covers issues such as: types of employment relationship, employee documentation, working time, holidays and other breaks, the cost of employing an employee, lobbying, termination of employment and related documentation.
What are an employee's health and safety responsibilities?
An employee's OSH duties include: informing the employer of illnesses and/or injuries incurred at work; notifying the employer of absences from work; using protective equipment; interrupting work when it is too dangerous; reporting perceived hazards and behaviour such as discrimination or bullying; following the directions of the Labour Inspectorate; and engaging in dialogue with the employer.

VI LEGAL PROVISIONS ON HEALTH AND SAFETY AT THE WORKPLACE

What are the legal documents on OSH in the workplace?
Such documents include: Arbeidsmiljøloven (the Norwegian Labour Code), Hjemmelsregisteret (a register that contains legislation for different industries), Forskrift om unntak fra arbeidsmilj?loven for visse typer arbeid og arbeidstakergrupper (a collection of information for different types of work and employees), Forskrift om arbeidsmilj?lovens anvendelse for personer som ikke er arbeidstakere (a collection of information for persons who are not employees).

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