Occupational risk prevention using a safety campaign and cross-national work environment comparisons

This is a multi-methodological and cross-national study of occupational risk prevention in the building and construction sector.
Palabras Clave: 
occupational risk prevention, safety campaign
Autor principal: 

Kines, Pete

National Institute of Occupational Health, Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance, Copenhagen, Denmark / Lersø Parkallé 105, 2100 Copenhagen,


( 45) 39 16 52 00 / ( 45) 39 16 52 01 / pk@ami.dk


This is a multi-methodological and cross-national study of occupational risk prevention in the building and construction sector. I would like to present my work as a paper.


Problem: National occupational lost-time-injury incident rates are twice as high in Denmark as in Sweden. The joint Swedish and Danish construction of a land, tunnel and bridge link between Denmark and Sweden provided natural experimental settings for cross-national comparisons of occupational injury rates.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to: 1) evaluate the effects of a multi- faceted safety campaign that was implemented at the Danish land-works site, 2) compare injury incident rates of Swedish and Danish construction workers constructing the link, and 3) identify national and organisational work-related factors in the Danish and Swedish construction industry that may contribute to identifying or adapting measures for occupational risk prevention.

Method: The data used in this study were lost-time-injury data from two Danish and two Swedish work sites involved in the link project. Log linear Poisson regressions were used to calculate lost-time-injury rate ratios, and confidence intervals were calculated using a 95% significance level.


All (100%) reportable lost-time-injury incidents were estimated to have been reported, and the distribution of the causes of lost-time-injury between the two nationalities was the same. At the Danish concrete element construction site of the link, where Swedish workers worked alongside Danish workers, the Danish construction workers had an injury rate almost five times greater than their Swedish colleagues. Similar differences were found between the Swedish and Danish land-works construction sites that employed almost 100% Swedish and 100% Danish workers, respectively.

A number of factors at the national and organisational level were identified that may contribute to explaining the differences in Danish and Swedish construction industry lost-time-injury rates. At the national level, Danish construction workers had less formal education and professional training, acquiring work ethics through on-the-job experience. Differences were also found in waging practices during sick leave, in that Swedish workers paid for their first day of sick leave. Economic stagnation during the 1990's in Sweden resulted in few new construction workers entering the job market. In contrast, unemployment was low in Denmark, allowing

for less qualified workers entering the construction job market. At the organisational level, Swedish workers were, to a greater degree, employed full-time in a company, whereas Danish workers were more often temporarily employed. Safety representatives were nominated by trade unions in Sweden, whereas in Denmark they were elected by the workers. Finally, health and safety management at construction sites was the responsibility of the site owner in Sweden, whereas in Denmark it could be passed down to the main contractor.

Following the implementation of a multi-faceted safety campaign at the Danish land-works, a significant 25% reduction was observed for injury incidents when exposure was assumed to be dependent on the type of construction work (heavy vs. light).


This study shows that the multi-faceted campaign was significantly effective in occupational risk prevention, and that cross-national comparisons of national and organisational occupational factors may help in identifying or adapting measures for future occupational risk prevention.

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