Getting started with HSE work


It is well established that a good working environment has a positive impact on both productivity and profitability. In addition, legislation stipulates certain requirements for which measures, activities and documentation a business must have in place when it comes to HSE.

We have tried to list the most important HSE activities and the requirements all employers should start with. Everything mentioned here is mandatory for employers. (Requirements established by the Working Environment Act and related regulations.) There may also be additional requirements specific to your type of activity.

List of mandatory written documentation:

(See Section 5 of the Internal Control Regulations)

  1. Health, safety and environmental objectives
  2. Overview of the enterprise's organizational set-up, including allocation of responsibilities, duties and authority
  3. Risk assessment
  4. Routines to uncover and rectify breaches of requirements
  5. Written procedures for reviewing the HSE system and ensure that routines are working as intended
Requirements to be particularly mindful of, if relevant:

These are areas that require written documentation of risk assessment if your business is engaged in this type of activity:

  • Working alone
  • Violence/threats
  • Children and youths
  • Buying cleaning services from authorized service providers only
  • Industry-relevant challenges and special requirements, examples:

- Food and hygiene
- Health and hygiene
- Infection prevention and control
- Electricity
- Fire/explosion
- Chemicals/cosmetics and biological factors
- Noise and vibrations
- Hot work
- Working at height
- Other

Begin by assessing risks:

Consider what your potential risks could be. We recommend watching the video on risk assessment for tips on how to approach the assessment process.

  1. Involve your employees in assessing risks and working environment activities. "What could constitute a risk in our environment?" Here is a list of examples in areas that may pose a risk (in norwegian).
  2. Do a simple risk analysis and develop an action plan to reduce risk in your most critical areas. Use NHO's digital risk assessment tools for free! (in norwegian) This review could give you an overview of which HSE requirements you should prioritize, and will also provide you with valuable, mandatory documentation.
  3. Training: One measure should be to train employees in how to reduce risk. This can be done through staff meetings, in the form of training courses or through specific training in work processes or the operation of machinery. Write down who participated and what the training covered.
  4. Documentation: Write down everything you do and keep every recorded bit of information in a file as documentation of your HSE activities. Written documentation, either on paper or in a digital format, is important for several reasons:

- You get an overview
- The law requires it
- You have something specific to present to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority or other inspection authorities
- You are able to document your HSE activities in the event of an accident or injury

Then go through other specific legal requirements:
  1. Employers must provide HSE training (NHO offers online courses
  2. If the enterprise has more than 10 employees, a safety representative must be appointed. Read more about the appointment of safety representatives here (in norwegian). If the enterprise has fewer employees, they may agree, in writing, to make different arrangements. Here is an example of this type of agreement (in norwegian). Safety representatives must be provided with training – 40 hours is the norm. Several of NHO's sectoral federations offer industry-specific training. Here is an overview of the different federations.
  3. Is your business obligated to provide an occupational health service (BHT)? This obligation is based on industry codes. Check to see if your industry is on the list and therefore obligated to provide occupational health services. If you are, there is a list of authorized occupational health service providers here (in norwegian). NHO has prepared a guide to buying occupational health services, which may be useful before entering into a contract. (in norwegian)
  4. Document who is responsible for what in terms of your HSE activities. This could take the form of an organization chart or a list of names and responsibilities, such as the name of the safety representative, fire prevention officer, etc., based on your enterprise's needs.
  5. Prepare a written procedure for performing risk assessments, updating action plans and, if relevant, performing safety inspections.
  6. Develop a procedure for reporting non-conformities, incidents, accidents, near misses, etc. An example of a form used to report non-conformities can be found here (in norwegian). Develop a procedure describing how these reports are processed, in order to make sure that unwanted incidents do not happen again. An example of a deviation handling procedure can be found here. (in norwegian)

You can get help from your industry association to assess whether any special requirements apply to your type of activity/industry and how you should handle these. If you start by performing a risk assessment, you will also get a certain overview.

This list is not exhaustive; read all the requirements in the Regulations concerning Organisation, Management and Employee Participation here.