Interaction between OHS regulation and OHS certification in Denmark

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    Abstract

    In 2001, the Danish Parliament approved a law on OHS certification that provided economic support to enterprises/organizations that were certified according to one of the two national OHS standards. These certified enterprises/organizations were also exempt from the initial inspection by the Danish Working Environment Authority, which they would otherwise be required to pay for. In practice, this meant that inspection of the certified enterprises was transferred to the certification bodies unless a work accident or work-caused ailment or the like was reported. In 2005, the law was revised so that in practice OHSAS 18001 received the same status as the Danish standards, which are presently of no practical importance. A special marking arrangement was also introduced for certified enterprises/organizations and shown on the Danish Working Environment Authority’s website. In spite of the fact that OHS certification has existed as a form of substitute inspection for almost 10 years, no systematic evaluation of the effects of OHS certification on the OHS, and thereby the validity of the certificate, has been made. In several cases, however, certified enterprises/organizations have received injunctions, immediate orders, or prohibitions against continued operation after the Danish Working Environment Authority had made an inspection due, for example, to a reported work accident or a theme campaign. This demonstrates that certification does not necessarily ensure that enterprises operate according to the legal requirements. This raises the question of whether OHS certification is a proper substitution for inspection by the authorities. On the one hand, the control frequency is greater for the certified enterprises/organizations due to the audits required for the certificate; on the other hand, the certification regime is based on a different frame of reference than the traditional regulation regime based on public inspection. These different frames of reference influence the way in which the national OHS concept is implemented, and thus the focus of inspection practice. Another significant factor is the creation of a client relationship between the certified organizations and the certification body, which establishes a form of dependency. With point of departure in a project for the Nordic Council of Ministers, the discussion here is based on Danish experiences and presents the project’s central recommendations for optimizing the interaction between OHS certification and regulation/control .
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Conference Working on Safety
    Number of pages11
    Publication date2010
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event5th International Conference Working on Safety: On the road to vision Ziro - Røros, Norway
    Duration: 8 Sep 201011 Sep 2010
    Conference number: 5

    Conference

    Conference5th International Conference Working on Safety
    Number5
    CountryNorway
    CityRøros
    Period08/09/201011/09/2010

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