13.03.2024

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New executive order on systematic working environment work

The new rules on systematic working environment work will strengthen cooperation on health and safety in the workplace by, among other things, making health and safety risk assessments a more active tool and clarifying the roles of the working environment organisation. 

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Yvonne Frederiksen

Julie Levisen

On 1 February 2024, the new rules in the Executive Order on Systematic Working Environment Work became effective. The new Executive Order brings together the rules on formal occupational health and safety requirements, including the rules on the health and safety risk assessment (“arbejdspladsvurdering”) and the working environment organisation (“arbejdsmiljøorganisation”) in one executive order.

The purpose of the new rules in the Executive Order is to facilitate the use of and create an overview of the rules on working environment work and establish a better basis for cooperation regarding working environment, including by making the health and safety risk assessment a more active tool in working environment work as well as clarifying the existing roles in the working environment organisation.

With the new rules on systematic working environment work, the work involved in the health and safety risk assessment is now divided into four phases instead of five phases as previously. The first two phases – “identification and mapping” and “description and assessment” of working environment conditions – are combined into one phase called “risk assessment”. This is just simplification of language, so the process will continue to involve initially identifying the company’s health and safety conditions and then conducting a risk assessment. Next, the company’s sickness absence will be included, after which an action plan will be established, implemented and monitored.

Furthermore, the Executive Order clarifies that the health and safety risk assessment is a process that must also be completed when changes are made to the work, working methods or work processes, and that the action plan of the health and safety risk assessment must be available at the company for managers, supervisors other employees as well as the Working Environment Authority (WEA).

The existing roles in the working environment organisation are also clarified in the Executive Order, including the tasks to be performed by the working environment organisation as well as the roles of the health and safety representative and the supervisor in the working environment work.

The special rules that previously applied to the working environment organisation in temporary or alternating workplaces have been repealed – however, not in the building and construction industry. In this industry, a working environment organisation must still be established when five or more employees are employed by the same employer at the temporary or alternating workplace and the work is carried out for at least 14 days.

Employers must also be able to document to the WEA that the subsidiarity principle has been observed when establishing the working environment organisation and in connection with major significant changes in the company.

Finally, the new Executive Order clarifies the recently implemented amendment to the Working Environment Act on the special protection of health and safety representatives against dismissal by extending the applicable notice of the health and safety representatives. Such protection applies in situations where a health and safety representative is not covered by a collective agreement that provides specific protection against dismissal, or where there is no protection in another collective agreement within a similar professional field.

The Executive Order on Systematic Working Environment Work can be found here.

The WEA’s guidance on systematic working environment work is available here.

Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that the new Executive Order generally clarifies the existing rules on the formal working environment requirements at workplaces for the purpose of facilitating the application of the rules at companies and strengthening ongoing working environment work; and
  • that it is also important to notice that the special protection against dismissal of health and safety representatives, which was recently implemented in the Working Environment Act, is now also incorporated into the new Executive Order.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.