NORWAY: Overview of working conditions and health at work

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The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) has published its third review. This three-yearly review presents and analyses the official statistics regarding the work environment and identifies trends with regard to workers’ health risks. These data are based on the replies of a sample group of around 11,000 Norwegian workers. They are used as a basis for policy decisions on areas requiring special attention or for launching campaigns to improve the work environment.

Main conclusions:

  • About six out of ten sick leaves are due to musculoskeletal disorders and mental health problems, and in around one out of two cases the employees attribute these problems entirely or partially to their work.
  • Work-related respiratory problems reported by those surveyed are less prevalent now than 20 years ago. Estimates show that around 20% of all cases of lung cancer in Norwegian males and between 10% and 20% of cases of chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by work.
  • Skin problems are as prevalent today as they were 20 years ago.
  • Although exposure to noise has decreased considerably in recent years, noise-related occupational diseases are the condition most frequently reported to labour inspectors.
  • The number of fatal occupational injuries has decreased from a long-term standpoint, although this decline seems to have levelled off in the past decade.
  • So working conditions in Norway are positive. This can be explained by the fact that improving the work environment has been a priority for many years now, and the country has for a long time promoted occupational safety and health and employee participation in occupational risk prevention. These results are especially positive in that 71% of the working-age population had a job.

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