10th EWHN Conference for labour & occupational health and safety representatives and professionals
“Workers finding a voice in a new Europe"
Friday September 29th to Sunday October 1st 2006, 
Baltic Beach Hotel, Majori, Jurmula, 

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Topical Workshop 5

10th European Work Hazards Network Conference 2006

29th September – 1st October 2006; Baltic Beach Hotel, Jurmala, Latvia

Topic Workshop 5: Labour Inspectorate

Facilitated by Janne Hansen, Denmark, and Elsbeth Huber, Austria

The workshop started with two presentations – one concerning the situation in Denmark and the other the situation in Austria. About these countries see the attached power point presentations.


  • Labour Inspectorate do not have enough time and personnel resources to control all companies and all worksites.

  • Problems as stress, repetitive strain work, bullying is difficult to control. It takes time for the Labour Inspectorate to work actively with these problems.

  • A way to make priorities is to divide the companies into 3 groups and the Labour Inspectorate is focused on the worst companies. This method is used in Denmark and Austria.

  • It is very important to build up networks between the Labour Inspectors and the Unions and to cooperate more often e.g. in organising campaigns.

  • Also it is important to improve the training and qualification of the employees in the Labour Inspectorates.

  • Labour Inspectorate must involve and talk with the workers when they make controls.

After the two presentations the participants from Latvia, Finland and Estonia introduced their systems and some main items were discussed e.g. how to work more active instead of reactive and how to cooperate more effectively on an international level.


There are 7 regions and they have to control 86.000 companies. In Latvia the Labour Inspectorate controls the working conditions and employment contract. It is a problem because the labour Inspectorate uses a lot of time in controlling contracts instead of working conditions when workers have no contract and no wages. The Labour Inspectorate tries to take the company to the Court. The situation is difficult because the employers often disappear. The work is reactive. There are many complaints but the Labour Inspectorate cannot react on every compliant. The inspectors leave the Labour Inspectorate because the salary is better in the private sector. There is a lack of detailed rules. Often the safety reps don’t know that the Labour Inspectorate visited the company.


There are fewer districts now than earlier. They have gone from 11 to 7 local districts. Perhaps they will go down to 4-5 districts. There are approximately 400 employees in the Inspectorate. The number has been going down since the seventies. The EU Machinery directive is a good tool. It is supported by safety standards. Every time the standards are being changed, there is a risk that some of the good things concerning health and safety will disappear. Standards can be difficult to understand so it is important that each country makes guidelines that can be used at the workplace. Many experts will soon retire and this might give problems in the future.

In Finland the Unions and the Employers has not made any agreements about health and safety, but they are working on it.


In many companies there is no membership of a union. The inspectors are good educated but earn a low salary. The Labour Inspectorate also has to control illegal work.

Therefore the make control together with the tax-inspectors and the police. The have to announce their visit. The health and safety inspectors must contact the workers in the company when they make a visit. There has to be a health and safety committee in every company. Workers are afraid to report about accidents.. In the Construction Industry many workers are self-employed and there is no control.


Janne Hansen: jha@3f.dk

Elsbeth Huber: Elsbeth.Huber@bmwa.gv.at


open pdf-file 

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