All companies with employees must prepare a written workplace assessment (WPA) every three years. It should be prepared jointly by the employer, and the working environment organisation or the employees. A working environment discussion must also be held every year in the working environment group, which, together with the WPA, should be documented by minutes or the agreements that are being made.
In this blog post, we explain the basics of the WPA and why it is important.
Why is the workplace assessment important?
The purpose of a workplace assessment is to create a good working environment. An environment in which employees are not affected by physical or psychological factors that cause them not to thrive. An employee who does not thrive is spending a lot of unnecessary energy on compensating for a deficiency, rather than focusing on performance and development.
Therefore, it is important that you give high priority to developing the working environment, that management and employees actively and constructively participate in the work, and that you allocate the necessary time for it.
Working with the WPA is about finding out:
- whether you are experiencing challenges with the work environment
- where the challenges may be
- how to solve the challenges
- who is responsible for them being resolved, and
- when to follow up.
What are the formal requirements for the workplace assessment?
As previously mentioned, a workplace assessment must be prepared every three years, while a work environment discussion must be held every year.
The workplace assessment itself is a survey conducted among the employees who must answer a number of questions about the working environment. It should also include an assessment of whether any sickness absence may be due to the working environment. The Danish Working Environment Authority does not require a certain response rate, but all employees must have the opportunity to participate in the WPA.
New employees should also have the opportunity to participate, and a new WPA must be made for the affected departments in case of internal restructurings. On the basis of the survey, specific action plans or agreements with deadlines for improving the working environment must be made. The workplace must be able to show that they have an overview of any work environment problems and who is responsible for doing what, how and when.
The annual working environment discussion is only for the work environment group, which must assemble and assess how things are proceeding with following up on the action plans that were made in connection with the workplace assessment. Minutes must be written, or agreements made to document that the discussions have taken place.
What must be covered by the workplace assessment?
The Danish Working Environment Authority has developed a very long questionnaire of themes to be addressed in the workplace assessment. They do not require that you use their entire questionnaire; rather, it is there for inspiration.
We have prepared a shorter version, which still addresses all the issues recommended by the Working Environment Authority. This questionnaire is designed in the same way as a medical check: "Does it hurt here?". If a low score - "No" - is given to the question, the result is a good one.
By asking the questions in that way, we focus on the individual issues. This is important if we want to ensure that our employees thrive in the workplace.
Should I also do a chemical workplace assessment?
If you have any employees working with or potentially exposed to hazardous substances and materials, a special chemical risk assessment (The part about substances and materials (6) in the workplace assessment) must be carried out in addition to the "ordinary WPA". The chemical risk assessment is a tool which the company must use to systematically review the working environment for employees who work with or may be exposed to hazardous substances and materials.
If it is considered that employees may be exposed to health-related hazards that must be avoided, but which cannot be immediately resolved, the problem shall be entered into the action plan, and a deadline must be set together with the company's general WPA. At the same time, temporary measures must be put in place to protect the employees, which may include the use of personal protective equipment.
Read more at the Danish Working Environment Authority.
Should the workplace assessment be confidential or completely anonymous?
We always recommend that a workplace assessment be confidential but NOT anonymous. If the employees' replies are completely anonymous, it is not possible to subsequently become concrete during the solution phase. In short, we cannot act on the identified challenges.
Work environment problems should, of course, be reported in a confidential process where employees know in advance who can see their answers. But it shouldn't be anonymous.
What are the possibilities in Musskema.dk?
In Musskema.dk it is possible to create a special WPA organisation. An organisation of employees, that is, which may deviate from the original departmental setup, so that employees are included in those teams and departments for which an WPA should be made.
In addition, the WPA module can be used to select a questionnaire (for example, our standard questionnaire that meets the requirements of the Danish Working Environment Authority) and send the form to be filled out electronically by the employees. Based on the replies, minutes and action plans can be made in the form of agreements with deadline and reminders to ensure proper follow-up.
The replies provide a statistical picture of how things stand in the organisation, while providing a unique overview of "where the shoe pinches" using graphs and the distribution graph, and it is also possible to perform an analysis of risk, importance and legal requirements.