Labour inspection strategies addressing the psychosocial work environment

Liv Starheim, Mette Bøgehus

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The purpose of this paper is to show how face-to-face meetings between inspectors and workplace members can be understood as a complex, strategic, motivational and emotionalised process, and hence to involve more than just a question of 'pursuing or persuading'. The paper illustrates the Danish model of an established practice of inspection of the psychosocial work environment, and discusses how this model contributes to the knowledge of inspection practice. Using observations and interviews, the research focuses on the micro-sociological level of inspection practice, examining how labour inspectors use 'strategies of both time and space' in their interaction with workplace members. Time and space strategies, as suggested by de Certeau, are legal institutions' way of exercising power over citizens, who respond by using tactical instruments to gain a foothold, or at least make it 'habitual' to be part of the situation. The inspectors use time and space strategies as a way of coping with the double purpose of the inspection visit: to control and motivate. Time and space strategies are also used as a way of handling the emotions of control, which are an inevitable part of the inspection process. The paper further discusses inspectors' strategies to navigate the inherent dilemmas of inspection, ie dilemmas within the internal logic and the overall strategy of the Danish Working Environment Authority. © IOSH Services Limited.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPolicy and Practice in Health and Safety
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)53-70
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health Policy
    • Health (social science)
    • Safety Research
    • Emotion of control
    • Inspection
    • Occupational safety and health
    • Psychosocial work environment
    • Space strategy
    • Time strategy
    • Work environment authorities

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