To what degree do organizations comply with the legislation on a safe working environment? What are the main workplace challenges? Fafo has conducted several national surveys of health, safety and environment (HSE) conditions in Norwegian workplaces. The research includes work organization, training, use of protective equipment and employee influence on own work.
Following the comprehensive immigration from new EU member countries, specific investigations have been directed towards HSE consequences in selected industries (such as construction, shipyards, food industry and cleaning). Work environment was also a major issue in the sector studies of the cleaning industry and the bar and nightlife industry. Three other research areas that are related to work environment are monitoring and control of employees, notification of unacceptable circumstances in the workplace (whistle-blowing) and workplace violence and intimidation.
Employers in a variety of industries are experiencing fierce competition from unscrupulous employers. Often, this is at the expense of employees' working environment in the form of longer working hours, greater demands for speed, lack of training, unsociable hours, violence and intimidation. Fafo has uncovered serious work environment problems, partly through several industry studies (such as construction, cleaning, bar and nightlife, transport).
Another work environment challenge is lack of adaptation, such as for pregnant women or senior employees. Competitions to win tenders, as well as lack of alternative work assignments, stand out as important explanations.
Certain groups of employee within the public sector and the financial sector employees are exposed to violence and threats at work. The issue has been a returning subject of several research projects at Fafo.
A field of research in regards to privacy considerations challenges is the monitoring and control of employees. This could be video surveillance, GPS tracking, and inspection of employee e-mail.
Fafo has also conducted a number of surveys regarding the functioning of the notification provisions of the Working Environment Act. Employees now enjoy the right to blow the whistle on reprehensible workplace conditions, and are entitled to protection against retaliation as a result of the notification.