Understanding the Challenges Facing Occupational Health Services in the Swedish Public Sector

The overall aim of Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSM) is to establish an effective prevention of work-related ill-health and to achieve beneficial working conditions. The question is whether or not Occupational Health Service (OHS) providers contribute to these goals in the public sector. This article will explore processes and contextual conditions for the use of OHS providers in the Swedish public sector.


According to Swedish Work Environmental Act, all organizations are required to implement Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSM). In support of this and when competence within the employer’s own organization is insufficient, regulations state that the employers are required to employ external resources such as an Occupational Health Service (OHS) provider. The aim of this study was to explore how public sector organizations utilized services and support from their OHS provider in preventive OHSM.

Eleven public sector organizations were studied, 100 of respondents (politicians, managers, HR, safety representatives, and OHS professionals) interviewed, and the data collected qualitatively and thematically analyzed. The results showed that the OHS providers do not support the public-sector organizations with preventive OHSM according to the intentions of the legislation. A significant conclusion is that the HR department has an important role in the collaboration and for the utilization of preventive services in OHSM.

Coworkers: Ann-Beth Antonsson

Year: 2017.0

Report number: A2276

Authors: Lisa Schmidt, Ann-Beth Antonsson, John Sjöström

Published in: Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, Volume 7, Number 3, s 85-105, DOI: 10.18291/njwls.v7i3.97090