27. Legislation and enforcement of occupational safety and health

Vorm van het werk: syllabus (schema’s voor projectie, tekstboek)

Aard van het werk: tekst en overheadsheet (transparanten) trainingsmateriaal voor inspecteurs en deskundigen op het arboterrein (in het Engels)

Uit de inhoud

Evaluation of past experiences

To go straight to the point: some highlights

There are some lessons to be learned from the past. Although a lot has been achieved, a complex system with a host of new problems has been created.

The intention to regulate everything and the attempt to watch over everything has blurred the sight on the longer term and on important issues.

Gradually a gap has developed between individual and collective interests. Those who create the risks and those who work with them have lost confidence in the regulating authorities and inspectorates.

They tend to do it their way. The compliance becomes problematic. Another important influence is exerted by the growing complexity of society and the technology. Comprehensive regulation and enforcement has become unmanageable because of the enormous diversity and the pace of the changes.

The amplifiers of the problem

There are several factors that have a negative impact on the problem of overcomplex regulations, too widely dispersed inspection activities and evasion of responsibilities on the part of employers and workers.

  1. There is a lack of balance between the regulatory and individual roles in the provision for safety and health at work. Responsibilities are unevenly distributed between the overall system and the systems where the risks are created and borne.
  2. Insufficient anticipation on the part of the authority of the behavior of employers and those who are addressed in the regulations.
  3. Lack of attention toward an integrated approach of safety, health and related matters. The original justification for legislation was to protect people who could not protect themselves. If this is still the issue, the pieces have to be brought together in a new unity.
  4. Insufficient attention of the changing technological, social and international/economic environment.
  5. Lack of quantification and measurement. The social costs and economic waste from accidents have not been investigated properly. So are the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of solutions.
  6. Lacking of defective communication. There is a lack of impartial advice and assistance to industry on the part of inspectorates. Policies are not enough explained and justified.
  7. Missing or defective cooperation. Cooperation of a constructive nature should be the explicit policy of authorities instead of isolation between rules and ruled.
  8. Underutilizing and undervaluing of expert knowledge and judgement. Authorities do not make enough use of in- and external expertise.
  9. Lack of accountability and discretionary power within the agencies.
  10. An epidemic of ‘more of the same’ resulting in piecemeal and haphazard rules and regulation and orientation toward short term results.


Inhoudsopgave. Boesten, A.; Legislation and enforcement of occupational safety and health, 1994, manuscript.


Introduction. The problem of how to adapt the law and the law enforcement to the ever-changing industrial, social and technological scene.

Evaluation of past experiences. The limits of law marking and law enforcement. Comprehensive safety legislation and inspection of hazards has become unmanageable.

The task for a regulatory and enforcement authority. The task is a doubly daunting one: (i) identify industrial hazards and (ii) devise means of responding to them by legislation and inspections.

Activities of a regulatory and inspection authority.

Safety management model.

Components of a legislation and enforcement system.

  • Surveillance of hazards and company behavior
  • Justification for government intervention
  • Loyalty on the part of undertakings
  • Statutory regulations framed in terms of general duty clauses like responsible care and in terms of end result obligations
  • Enforceable standard setting through approved codes and standards of practice
  • Compliance support for companies
  • Standard settings by professional associations
  • Inspections and certification by designated (accredited) bodies
  • Prosecution of severe and repeated non-compliance in criminal proceedings

Means and ways to collect information about hazards (e.g. accidents, complaints etc.).

Assessing hazards. Settings levels of acceptance or hazards with a view to available resources.

Setting goals. Selecting instruments (e.g. regulation, providing information, consultancy, etc.)

Case study about inspections/enforcements.

Execution of a policy.

Methods of inspection:

– programmed inspections and inspection projects

– accident investigation

– wall-to-wall inspection of physical conditions

– organizational audit or assessment

Advantages and disadvantages of the different methods.

Choice of an inspection policy.

Accident investigation policy.

Enforcing legal provisions and the use of sanctions, administrative or penal.

Quality management of regulation and enforcement.

Case study ‘Construction industry’