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How we work

The regulations and the supervisory system are designed to help enhance the awareness of the companies that they bear total responsibility for operating acceptably.

Photo from audit

This means that the companies are free to come up with the best solutions themselves. Mutual trust and understanding of roles and duties are a prerequisite for our ability to exercise our regulatory role in this way.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has provided the following guidance on how we should discharge our duties:

  • our supervision should be system-oriented and risk-based
  • it should be a supplement to and not a replacement for internal control by the industry
  • we must strike a balance between our role as a high-risk/technology regulator and a labour inspection authority
  • contributing to and collaborating with companies and unions represent crucial requirements for and principles in our activities.

Our supervision is directed at relevant parts of a company’s management system, and takes the form of audits and verifications.

An audit is a planned, systematic review of parts of the management system, involving a review of documents and interviews with selected people.

The intention is to establish whether the system as described conforms with reality, and whether the system provides an adequate basis for acceptable operation.

Verification involves random sampling to investigate whether the management system works in practice and contributes to creating the level of safety required by the regulations.

A company must rectify faults and deficiencies exposed by a verification. But the most important consideration is that identified faults show something has gone wrong with the management system which must be corrected.

It is neither possible nor desirable to supervise all activities, every facility and all equipment. Risk-based supervision means that our planning gives priority to areas with the highest risk.

Each company its own supervisor
Supervision we may have conducted in a selected area does not free the company from its duty to assure itself that facilities, plants and equipment comply with regulatory requirements at all times.

Our supervision is accordingly a supplement to the company’s own internal systems for inspection and control.

Balanced weighing
The challenges we face can be divided into major accident risk and working environment risk. No conflict exists between these two aspects, but it is important that we consciously weigh the allocation of our resources between them.

Working environment risk is manifested in the form of personal injuries, near-misses, occupational illness and the like.

Major accident risk, on the other hand, comprises risk aspects which are not necessarily evident in day-to-day operation. They are nevertheless present as a latent risk that something can go wrong and lead – in the worst case – to a major accident.

It is important that neither the companies nor the government relaxes its vigilance over this risk, even though a long time can pass between such incidents.

In the planning of our activities, we accordingly ensure that both these main areas are subject to acceptable supervision.

Employee participation and tripartite collaboration
The regulations confer both rights and duties on employees with regard to their participation in ensuring acceptable operation. These include involvement in decision processes which affect the working environment.

We check that both sides of the industry – employers as well as employees – comply with the regulations in this important area.

Cooperation between employers, unions and government is a cornerstone of our exercise of regulatory authority.

This “tripartite” collaboration means that all three parties work together openly and constructively on challenges and on how these can best be overcome.

The two most important arenas for tripartite collaboration are the Safety Forum and the Regulatory Forum.