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An Occupational Health and Safety Conversation: The Swedish and New Zealand Perspective
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


There has been a change in the nature of work over recent decades with an increase in the use of non-standard forms of work. Non-standard work includes for example the use of contractors and sub-contractors. These forms of employment lead to a greater vulnerability of the workforce. These workers are missing out on union representation, training opportunities and basic employment protection. This directly impacts the safety of the workers due to the confusing legislation over duty of care. It is often unclear who is responsible for providing occupational health and safety (OHS) training for these workers. It is for this reason the following report will attempt to gain a better understanding of the policies and regulations surrounding OHS in two countries. Sweden and New Zealand have been chosen as a focus for this research because they represent two different governing systems.

The aim of this research was to describe what structures and policies regulate occupational health and safety matters in Sweden and New Zealand comparatively. It was also the aim of this research to seek insight into the policy conversation around OHS training in both Sweden and New Zealand. Three research questions have been used throughout the report to guide the researcher when selecting relevant documents collating the main themes and overall ensuring that the research stays on track. The questions are as follows:

  • What structures and policies regulate occupational health and safety matters in Sweden and New Zealand?
  • What characterises both the Swedish and the New Zealand work environment?
  • What is the policy conversation around OHS training in Sweden and New Zealand?

The methodology choosen for this research was a qualitative approach because greater in-depth  understanding for OHS matters were sought after. The research was focused around policy documents from both Sweden and New Zealand. The documents from each country were chosen because of their current and topical relevance to each country.

The main findings from this research were grouped into five themes based on key termes identified in both countries documents. The five themes are as follows: 

  • Work Environment and Regulation
  • OHS Training and Attitudes
  • Worker Participation
  • OHS Research
  • Longer Working Life

Conclusions were made based on these themes. OHS regulation was found to be adequate in Sweden in contrast to New Zealand. In New Zealand there is a call for major reforms to be made to the OHS legislation because due to its lack of adequate coverage for the current workforce. The term work environment is used in Sweden and includes a more holistic view, compared to the term occupational health and safety which is used in New Zealand and focuses more on safety and the prevention of work-related harm. Inadequate training for safety representatives were found to be an issue both in Sweden and New Zealand. In Sweden safety representatives are entitled to sufficient paid leave to fulfill their duties including training, in contrast to New Zealand where the safety representatives are entitled to only two days paid leave annualy. OHS training was suggested to be a necessary component in many tertiary education programs both in Sweden and New Zealand. The suggestion was made to better prepare prospective managers who will have OHS responsibilities. Worker participation was found to be a necessary component of a well functioning OHS scheme in both the countries. It was not adequately regulated in New Zealand until the implementation of the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002. In both Sweden and New Zealand new OHS research functions were suggested to be established. The changing nature of work is highlighted as a concern in both countries, because legislation does not adequately cover the new forms of work and is not conducive to OHS.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 79 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier, 2013HT00798
Keyword [en]
Occupational Health and Safety, Work Environment, Comparative Study, Sweden, New Zealand
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-216211OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-216211DiVA: diva2:689241
Subject / course
Available from: 2014-01-20 Created: 2014-01-20 Last updated: 2014-01-20Bibliographically approved

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