Workplace Health Promotion in Small Enterprises in Denmark. July Peter Hasle and Peter Wissing CASA

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1 Workplace Health Promotion in Small Enterprises in Denmark July 2000 Peter Hasle and Peter Wissing CASA

2 Workplace Health Promotion in Small Enterprises in Denmark CASA, July 2000 ISBN Denne udgivelse er kopieret/trykt på Svanemærket papir og indbundet i omslag lavet af PP

3 List of Content Introduction Summary Conclusion Framework of Health at Work within Small Enterprises Description of Small Enterprises Health Risks in Small Enterprises The Current Practice of Health at Work within Small Enterprises The Occupational Health and Safety System Working Environment Initiatives in Small Enterprises The Role of National Stakeholders The National Working Environment Authority The Occupational Health Service Employers Associations and Trade Unions Other Interest Groups Assessment of Health at Work within Small Enterprises in Denmark Introduction The Culture of Small Enterprises The Small Enterprise Approach to the Working Environment General Principles Case Reports...28 Introduction Summary. Case No. 1: Workplace assessment of psychosocial strain in a small computer firm Case No. 1: Workplace assessment of psychosocial strain in a small computer firm Summary. Case No. 2: Development of Integrated Workplace Assessment Case No. 2: Development of Integrated Workplace Assessment Summary. Case No. 3: Development of Occupational Health Service tailored to SMEs Case No 3: Development of Occupational Health Service tailored to SMEs...39 Bibliography...42 Appendix...44

4 Introduction This report comprises the Danish contribution to the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion in small and medium-sized enterprises. In Denmark, very few initiatives have been taken concerning workplace health promotion and experience is limited. At least regarding the traditionally understood concept of health promotion, in the form of focusing on personal lifestyle issues such as alcohol, smoking, nutrition and physical exercise. Generally speaking, this form of traditional health promotion is a relatively new issue in the workplace in Denmark, and the prevailing activity is in practice, concentrated on larger enterprises. It is therefore not possible to describe specific activity regarding traditional health promotion issues. However, in the field of occupational health and safety, the picture is quite different. Small enterprises have been a priority issue for both political, regulatory, and promotional initiatives. A lot of different methods and approaches have been launched and it is these efforts which will be the focal point for the present report, concentrating mainly upon the group of very small enterprises with less than 20 employees. The report has been written on the basis of secondary sources, and based on research and development projects carried out by CASA, mainly by P. Hasle and H. J. Limborg (see bibliography for these authors). In addition, three case-studies have been carried out. These include one small enterprise which has been active in the field of psychosocial strain and two occupational health service units which have developed specific methods for small enterprises. 2

5 1 Summary In Denmark, working environment initiatives directed towards small and medium sized enterprises (SME's), have focused primarily on occupational health and safety. There are no examples of lifestyle or workplace health promotion approaches to the SME's. Our report therefore focuses on occupational health and safety within small enterprises and especially on those of them with less than 20 employees. Small enterprises dominate industry in Denmark and have received increased attention during the last decade from the occupational health and safety system. One important measure taken has been the strengthening of statutory requirements for the establishment of a safety organisation - small enterprises with 5-19 employees must now establish a safety group consisting of a safety representative and a first line manager (or the owner if only one level of management). Another important measure has been the requirement for workplace assessment which should have been carried out before the end of micro enterprises (with less than 5 employees) have received an extended deadline for conducting their workplace assessment until the end of Furthermore, it is required that all enterprises within industrial sectors with high health risk factors must affiliate with an occupational health service, regardless of size. The occupational health service unit can provide advice and consultancy on matters related to occupational health and safety. These legal requirements are met with scepticism by many small enterprises, and are regarded as bureaucratic and not considering the practical problems of SME's. A study by Tybjerg et al. 1999, indicates that especially small enterprises have not yet completed the workplace assessment. This study also confirms earlier findings of the reluctance of small enterprises to use the occupational health service (Hasle and Limborg, 1996). The Danish experience indicates that it is important to consider the way small enterprises understand occupational health and safety and the way they conduct daily activities. Health and safety activity is most often informal with focus on specific, confined problems related to the everyday functioning of the enterprise. This practise is contrasted by the legal requirements focusing on systematic assessment and management of occupational health and safety problems. A number of Danish pilot projects have proved that it is necessary to develop specific methods and tools tailoring to the needs of the small enterprises' working environment. The basis for this development is personal contact with the owner, who is the key to everything in the enterprise. Improvements in health and safety and promotion of health cannot be successful without dialogue and trust between the owner and the working environment professional. 3

6 Due to the concrete and shortterm perspectives of the small enterprises, intermediaries from outside the enterprise get a key role in promotion of health and safety. In Denmark the occupational health service has been the most important contributor and two examples of their successful methods can be highlighted: The occupational health service in northeastern Zealand has developed a new service model for small enterprises. The point of departure is the culture of small enterprises and the consultancy roles. The most important elements are; personal contact to each small enterprise, access to immediate advice and, pooling of resources to small enterprises. The occupational health service in Soroe in collaboration with a private consultant, offers a method for integrated workplace assessment that combines four elements. The approach is to integrate preventive working environment activity into the fields of quality, productivity and external environment. It emphasizes the close link between the elements to demonstrate the healthy working environment not as an unnecessary expense, but as having potentially time, money and raw material saving benefits. The integrated workplace assessment was developed and adapted specially for the small enterprises, showing respect for their unique culture and the owners' own perception of the working environment. 1.1 Conclusion Future strategies regarding workplace health promotion must be based on respect for the culture of the small enterprises. One important aspect is the owners sensibility towards criticism directed at their company, which is often perceived as personal criticism. It is therefore important to focus on methods which have a positive approach and integrate workplace health promotion with other management goals regarding quality, productivity, external environment, motivation of the employees and other tasks. The culture of small enterprises and the integrated approach will require new training for the intermediaries. They must learn how to establish and maintain a relationship built on dialogue and mutual trust with owners of small enterprises. They must also acquire sufficient knowledge of small business management. Denmark has a strong tradition for collaboration between management and employees both at work level and in society as a whole. It is therefore necessary for strategies on work health promotion to include the social dialogues between the two parties. Another important aspect is that because the owner of a SME receives a tremendous amount of post, newsletters, junk mail, etc., he rarely makes use of written material unless he finds it highly important. Workplace health promotion campaigns in written form therefore seldom achieve their purpose or goal. We believe that it is possible to develop successful strategies for workplace health promotion in small enterprises based on the above considerations. But, enterprises have their priority set on the daily fight for survival and it will take time to convince them that workplace health promotion helps and supports this goal. 4

7 2 Framework of Health at Work within Small Enterprises 2.1 Description of Small Enterprises The Danish labour market is dominated by small enterprises. Fig. 2.1 shows the proportion of small enterprises further broken down into four sizes. The very small enterprises, with less than 10 employees predominate, while the number of enterprises with 100 or more employees constitutes only a few percent. Fig. 2.1 Number of Companies in Selected Sectors by Size Percent Agriculture Industry Construction Service 1-10 empl empl empl. 100 and upwards Number of employees The picture is reversed, however, when one observes the proportion of employees (fig. 2.2). Enterprises with 100 or more employees employ nearly half of all workers in small enterprises. However, enterprises with 1-19 employees still cover about a fourth of all employees. The very small enterprises are especially prominent in agriculture, construction and services, while industry has a somewhat smaller proportion of small enterprises and covers a good 20% of all employed persons. 5

8 Fig. 2.2 Number of Employees in Selected Sectors by Size Agriculture Industry Construction Service Percent empl empl empl. 100 and upwards Number of employees A more detailed distribution of small enterprises by sector is contained in Appendix 1. Most small enterprises are individually owned, but there are also other forms of ownership. Some are branches or daughter companies of larger enterprises, and thereby dominated by the mother company ; these can hardly be labelled as genuine small enterprises. Others are owned by stockholders or joint stock companies which means that ownership is removed from the enterprises daily operations. This form, however, is not especially widespread among the very small enterprises. Many of the small enterprises are affiliated with a large number of employers and sector-oriented associations. Within some sectors, the proportion of members in the employers association is high, but many small enterprises are not members of associations. The same is true for the workers, the degree of unionisation is consistently lower in the small enterprises, although 80-90% of Danish workers are members of unions. 2.2 Health Risks in Small Enterprises It has not been possible to identify specific surveys concerning the differences between working environment strains in small and large enterprises. The only statistical indicator is a figure (fig. 3.1) from the National Labour Protection Board (Arbejdstilsynet, 1998) which indicates that the risk of fatal accidents is much larger in small enterprises. Especially the very small enterprises with less than 5 employees seem to have a high risk rate. However, the high incidence rate in this group is also a reflection of the industrial sector as a whole. The agri- 6

9 cultural sector has a very high risk rate of fatal accidents and most of the employees in agriculture work in farms with less than 5 employees. For serious and all accidents the low incidence rate within small enterprises is mainly caused by a low reporting rate. Fig. 2.3 Average Accident Incidence Distributed by Enterprise Size and Consequence of Accident 25 Average incidence per year Fatalities per employees Serious accidents per employees All accidents per employees 0 < 5 empl empl empl empl. >100 empl. With exception of the above figure, quantitative data on health problems is scarce and only qualitative data is available. This has among others been collected in relation to two research projects (Limborg and Hasle, 1996, Hasle and Limborg, 1998). In these projects, visits to a large number of small enterprises have been carried out, as well as interviews with several occupational health service consultants. The conclusion drawn from the projects points to the following unique characteristics of the working environment in small enterprises: Work in small enterprises is typically of a more varied character compared to the larger enterprise. This means that there is less repetitive work, and there will be less full-time exposure to occupational hazards than in large enterprises. However, repetitive work is also found within small enterprises in certain special sectors, such as fish processing. In many cases close contact between owner and employees results in a more meaningful work and a better psychological working environment. There is considerable diversity among small enterprises, with some having an extremely poor working environment where everything is chaotic, and cooperation between owner and employees does not function, while others have a very good working environment. 7

10 Complicated technical measures to control the working environment will be relatively more expensive for small enterprises, and there will often be problems in ensuring ongoing maintenance. 8

11 3 The Current Practice of Health at Work within Small Enterprises 3.1 The Occupational Health and Safety System The Danish Working Environment Law contains the following provisions regarding size of enterprises: Enterprises with less than five employees are not required to establish a safety organisation; Enterprises with 5-19 employees must establish a safety group consisting of a safety representative and a first line manager (or the owner if only one level of management); Enterprises with 20 or more employees must establish a safety committee chaired by a representative for the employer and consisting of safety representatives and first line managers as members. In addition, the enterprise must establish the necessary number of safety groups (in principle one group for each separate department). In addition, Danish law requires that all enterprises undertake a workplace assessment. Micro enterprises (with less than 5 employees) have received an extended deadline for conducting their workplace assessment until the end of 2000, and a committee with representatives from the parties of the labour market has together with the National Working Environment Authority, studied the special conditions for workplace assessment for micro enterprises. A research report carried out for the committee (Hasle and Dalskin, 2000) proposed a number of methods which can be utilized in the micro enterprises. Furthermore, it is required that all enterprises within the various industrial sectors as well as certain other branches of the economy, must affiliate with an occupational health service, regardless of size. An occupational health service unit can be established as a centre in a certain geographical area. The centre is owned by the affiliated enterprises and the board of directors is formed of 50% employers and 50% worker representatives. Alternatively, it can also be in the form of a sector occupational health service with the same type of ownership and management or an internal occupational health service in a very large company. There are altogether slightly less than 100 occupational health service units in Denmark. Approximately 40 of these are centres, and they have affiliated most of the small enterprises. A total of 80% of enterprises linked to an occupational health service have less than 20 employees, and the micro enterprises are the predominant group. Nearly a fourth of all employees affiliated with an occupational health service are employed in a small enterprise. 9

12 Fig. 3.1 All Occupational Health Service Member Enterprises According to Size 1 Percent Number of enterprises Number of employees 1-9 empl empl empl empl. 100 and upwards Number of employees The number of employees in enterprises with less than 20 employees varies from over 50% in the hotel and restaurant sector and private services, to construction with approximately 40%, and to public companies where only around 10% of the employees work in small enterprises. In the public sector, it is typically a case of smaller independent institutions. Thus, about a fourth of those employees covered by the Danish occupational health service system are employed within small enterprises. An occupational health service unit is required to offer 1.3 hours of consultancy service for each affiliated employee. The individual small enterprise thus has only relatively few hours at its disposal, but compared with other support systems, primarily the Technological Advisory Centres, the resources per enterprise are still much larger. In addition, these advisory centres do not offer advice in the area of working environment. 3.2 Working Environment Initiatives in Small Enterprises It is often emphasized that small enterprises in Denmark have unique requirements with regards to working environment initiatives. Especially the small enterprises with less than 20 employees are in focus because experience shows (Limborg and Hasle, 1998) that the conditions for their employees are quite different from the enterprises with just a few more employees. The latter tend to share features with large enterprises. Hence, many special initiatives have been organised in Denmark directed towards the very small enterprises occupational health service units containing 24,770 member enterprises encompassing 513,184 employees. (Hasle and Limborg, 1998). 10

13 Assessment of initiatives taken in small enterprises A recent study into the functioning of the occupational health service (Tybjerg Aldrich et al., 1999) showed that many small enterprises have not established a safety organization. Table 3.1 Proportion of enterprises without a safety organization according to size of the enterprise 1-9 empl.* empl empl empl. All enterprises No safety organisation 71% 38% 12% 0.6% 57% Tybjerg Aldrich et al. (1999) (2,882 interviews). * The micro enterprises with 1-4 employees are not, as earlier mentioned, required to establish a safety organisation; unfortunately, they are not separated in this study. This however, does not necessarily mean that nothing happens in the small enterprises. Many problems are solved in everyday activity without any major fuss. When a problem makes its way onto his agenda, the owner is typically full of initiative, and measures are taken on the spot. This often occurs by means of an informal cooperation between the owner and the directly affected employees, and in many cases the employees themselves obtain responsibility for solving the problem. Some enterprises have a tradition for holding a short, weekly staff meeting which can become a forum for raising concrete working environment problems (Limborg and Hasle, 1998). The requirement to implement a workplace assessment was introduced in the early 1990's, and many small enterprise owners regard it as complicated and irrelevant. While most large enterprises have gradually carried out workplace assessments, most small enterprises have still not fulfilled this requirement. 11

14 Table 3.2 Implementation of Workplace Assessment in Enterprises Number of employees Proportion of enterprises implementing workplace assessments (%) Proportion of enterprises not implementing workplace assessments (%) All Enterprises Tybjerg Aldrich et al (2,882 interviews) In cooperation with external partners, the small enterprise will typically request concrete here and now solutions to their working environment problems. This partner often fulfils this need very well and is therefore typically the most frequently utilized collaborator in the field of the working environment. The partner will be used to find solutions to physical and chemical working environment problems, for example, by substituting harmful chemical products, or by purchasing safer machines and ventilation equipment. It therefore often becomes the partner who interprets working environment information for the small enterprise. To a certain degree, information is also sought in the employers associations, the National Working Environment Authority and the occupational health service, while the employees often contribute information found in their trade union publications. There is no tradition of requesting advice directly from for instance consultants, and most employers have the preconceived opinion that the advice will not be usable. 3.3 The Role of National Stakeholders In principle, the working environment system is well tuned to dealing with large enterprises. For many years a safety organisation has been required in those enterprises, and many resources have been used to make it function, but the case is quite different for small enterprises. The National Working Environment Authority conducts inspections in both large and small enterprises, but small enterprises receive no special priority, and typically several years may pass between visits. The large enterprises are more frequently inspected, and it is with these enterprises that the occupational health service also uses most of its resources. The occupational health service system and the labour market organisations also focus much more on large enterprises, and it looks like the whole discussion about the development of working environment initiatives takes its point of departure in the large enterprises, and development projects are typically targeted at the needs of the large enterprises. It is therefore hardly coincidental that most 12

15 small enterprises have had difficulties coping with the working environment system. In recent years, however, small enterprises have occupied a more prominent place on the working environment agenda, and many of those involved with working environment issues attempt in different ways to prioritise the small enterprises, despite the difficulty of the large enterprises inherent domination of the agenda The National Working Environment Authority The National Working Environment Authority is the state body with responsibility for regulation and control of the working environment in Denmark, and during recent years the Authority has focused more on the small enterprises. In 1999 the National Working Environment Authority conducted a special campaign to stimulate enterprises with 5-9 employees to set up a safety organisation. The campaign has included 1% of the time allocated to control visits for a halfyear period and has therefore been limited. In addition, campaigns are periodically conducted toward sectors especially dominated by small enterprises. The most comprehensive effort has been aimed at auto-repair, in cooperation with the trade unions and the employers association in this sector and the occupational health service. Also in 1999 a committee was established by the Authority to evaluate the special needs of micro enterprises regarding workplace assessment. A study related to the work of the committee (Hasle and Dalskin, 2000) showed that a number of different methods could be aimed at small enterprises. Table 3.3 Different Workplace Assessment Methods Developed to Small Enterprises Method No Pct. Traditional methods as for large enterprises 8 14 Simple workplace assessment (total) Checklists Open forms 7 12 Open methods without forms (Flip charts and others) 8 14 Integrated workplace assessment (with other issues) 3 5 Training and networking approaches 9 16 Total 58 The methods were mainly developed by the occupational health service, but also employers associations, trade unions and joint sectoral working environment councils have developed methods. Even though many of the methods were not especially fitted to the micro enterprises, the result indicates that the various interest groups give small enterprises a higher priority. 13

16 The National Working Environment Authority has also introduced a special control practice which to a greater degree assesses the enterprises own activity and internal capacity, rather than the material standard of the working environment. Those enterprises assessed as operating well will receive fewer inspections. It must therefore be expected that control in small enterprises will become more comprehensive, as they seldom can document the systematic effort which the National Working Environment Authority is pursuing. However, it will probably take quite a number of years before the inspectors have finished the initial visits to the large enterprises. In 1999 funds were allocated to the Authority with the purpose of initiating pilot projects in the occupational health service. As a consequence five projects aimed at small enterprises were established. The projects are running until the end of year 2000 so the results are not yet available. However, one of the case studies (section 3.4) is among these pilot projects. Experience from the occupational health service indicates that the activity of the National Working Environment Authority has great importance on the demand for the occupational health service advisory services. An order from an inspector about utilization of the occupational health service seldom provides the best point of departure for co-operation, whilst advice on the possibility of using the occupational health service has shown itself to be more appropriate. The simple execution of campaigns, where for example, workplace assessment is required by the inspectors, has also led to the creation of demand for occupational health service advisory services The Occupational Health Service It is the occupational health service which has the most resources to conduct outreach activities with small enterprises, and the occupational health service has also the most experience in this domain. But for the first many years after it's establishment in 1980, it has been difficult for the occupational health service to get proper contact to the small enterprises. In the National Working Environment Authority conducted a status survey of the occupational health service (Arbejdstilsynet 1995), which pointed to this problem. For the occupational health service centres, the survey shows that only about a fourth of the small enterprises in 1994 requested occupational health service assistance in solving a problem (table 3.4). In contrast, all the large enterprises had utilized the occupational health service. Many small enterprises, however, would not necessarily need occupational health service advice each year, so it cannot be immediately determined how large a proportion ought to have addressed the occupational health service. 14

17 Table 3.4 Number of Enterprises Contacting Occupational Health Service Centres in 1994, according to Size of Enterprise 1-9 empl empl empl. 99+ empl. Total No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % 1, , , Arbejdstilsynet (1995) In 1999 Tybjerg Aldrich et al. asked enterprises about their use of the occupational health service (table 2.5). This survey indicates a somewhat higher utilization of the occupational health service, but it perhaps also reflects that the political debate surrounding the occupational health services cooperation with small enterprises after the first survey has caused many occupational health service units to enhance their activity directed at small enterprises. Yet while nearly all large enterprises utilize the occupational health service, a third of all enterprises - the vast majority small - have never done so. It has therefore been asserted in the Danish debate that via their compulsory membership, the small enterprises are helping to subsidise the occupational health services advisory services to the large enterprises. Table 3.5 Use of Occupational Health Service Distributed by Size of Enterprise Number of employees Proportion of enterprises using occupational health service (%) All Several times each year Approximately once a year Less than once a year New members, occupational health service has not been used yet Have never used occupational health service Tybjerg Aldrich et al (2,882 interviews) Special initiatives directed toward small enterprises The problem of low utilization has been an important motivating factor for most occupational health service units which have conducted special initiatives towards small enterprises in recent years. A questionnaire conducted in 1997 (Hasle and Limborg 1998) indicated that the vast majority of occupational health service centres and sector occupational health services in the late nineties have undertaken special initiatives aimed at small enterprises. The initiatives vary considerably and cover different target groups. In some cases they cover all small en- 15

18 terprises affiliated with an occupational health service, while in other cases the activities cover special sectors where small enterprises predominate. Fig. 3.3 Special Initiatives Directed towards Small Enterprises (N=49) Field visits Seminars Contact persons Collaboration with local organizations Development of OHS qualifications Surveys of demands Other initiatives Additional plans for the future The usual approach consists of a series of field visits. Typically, an introductory visit to an enterprise is made in connection with its affiliation to an occupational health service. Beyond this, some occupational health services have arrangements where all enterprises which have not used the occupational health service are visited within a two- or three-year period, while others implement their visits within specific sectors often linked to campaign activities. Such campaigns are most frequently aimed at construction, hotel and restaurant, auto-repair, iron- and metalworking, and the printing industry. The conclusion of cooperative agreements based on legal requirements has also been a frequent point of departure for organising the field visits. In addition, workplace assessment has also been an often utilized opportunity for visits. Some occupational health services have organised themselves with permanent contact persons for each enterprise. Seminars of various kinds are conducted by 55% of the occupational health service units. In some cases, the seminars are aimed especially towards small enterprises, but the target group is often described as all enterprises within a specific sector which is dominated by small enterprises. The most frequently discussed topic is workplace assessment, which is mentioned by three-quarters of the occupational health services which have arranged seminars. Otherwise, the seminars cover a broad spectrum of working environment topics. Some seminars last a whole day, but most are organised after normal working hours and last 2-3 hours. 16

19 Around half of the occupational health service has worked with the development of special qualifications for coping with small enterprises. They divide themselves into two groups. The first one includes the development of qualifications directly relevant to small enterprises. In this area, the occupational health service system has organised courses and seminars at the annual nation-wide occupational health service seminar, regionally and in the individual occupational health service units. The second group deals with qualifications within different methods, seen as important in coping with the small enterprises. They include courses and seminar days concerning better service, communication, organisation, and pedagogy. Among the occupational health services surveyed, 76% planned special initiatives toward small enterprises in the coming years. A third of these initiatives were concerned with workplace assessment, while the remainder covered a wide range of various approaches. Construction was the most frequently mentioned sector for which special initiatives were planned. Among the enterprises which have utilized the occupational health service, there is a relatively positive assessment of the effect on the working environment, although it is somewhat less for the small enterprises (Tybjerg Aldrich et al., 1999). Table 3.6 Enterprises Assessment of the Effect of Cooperation with the Occupational Health Service Number of employees Enterprises that fully or partly agree with the following statement concerning the effect of co-operation with the occupational health service: (%) The occupational health service has generally contributed to an improvement of the working environment. The occupational health service has created an understanding of the hazards in the working environment. The occupational health service has contributed to improvements in the physical conditions. The occupational health service has helped the enterprise to better solve its working environment problems (Tybjerg Aldrich et al. 1999) (2,882 interviews) 17

20 3.3.3 Employers Associations and Trade Unions Trade unions and employers organisations have also concluded several agreements on outreach working environment activities where they visit the workplaces together. This is the case, for example, within the construction sector and in hairdressing. The experiences from these visits indicate that they often give the impression of being inspections, where the goal appears to be control of whether the existing working environment regulations are being observed, while the advisory function recedes into the background. In addition, trade unions and employers organisations also conduct activities on their own. To a large degree, owners of small enterprises use their employers organisations to seek information about the working environment. Experience indicates that the information material from the employers organisations is used more frequently than more general material. This is presumably because small enterprises have greater confidence in their own organisation and expect that the information material from here will be sufficiently sector-oriented. The owners also ask for direct advice in their organisations, where there to a certain degree can be offered concrete consultancy services or referral to other advisory organs. The employers and sector-related organisations usually have working environment professionals who can offer advisory services to their enterprises in the area of working environment. The largest Danish employers organisation (Dansk Industri) has established three sector secretariats - blacksmiths and machine workers, motor mechanics, and the woodworking industry - in order to better serve these three sectors which are characterised by small enterprises. The local trade unions, beyond giving general support to members, have directed their efforts primarily toward the development of a contact network with safety representatives. This normally includes advice in connection with concrete cases, information material, seminars, and training courses. The effort is related to the present issue constrained by the many small enterprises which do not have safety representatives, and by the contact being entirely dependent on the individual chosen as safety representative. Following the changes in the working environment law, there is now a requirement for election of a safety representative when there are five employees or more, and many trade unions have therefore carried out or are planning campaigns aimed at election of safety representatives in the small enterprises. In this context, it can also become necessary for the unions to develop the role of the safety representative within small enterprises. It has typically been considered a control role, but that will not fit most small enterprises where the owner and the workers have an informal dialogue. The workers and the owners will in such cases therefore be more interested in a more advisory role for the safety representatives. Some unions also organise regular visits to their members workplaces. This is especially the case in the construction industry, but it is difficult for the unions to get in touch with the many small enterprises. 18

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