Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.4126 | Published online: 30 Oct 2023

Effects of the Labor Inspection Authority’s regulatory tools on physician-certified sick leave and employee health in Norwegian home-care services – a cluster randomized controlled trial

by Finnanger Garshol B, Knardahl S, Emberland JS, Skare Ø, Johannessen HA

Objective This study aimed to determine the effects of the Labor Inspection Authority’s regulatory tools on physician-certified sick leave and self-reported health outcomes among employees in municipal home-care services in Norway.

Methods We conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in the home-care service sector, and 96 eligible municipalities were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (i) labor inspection visits, based on the Labor Inspection Authority’s standard inspections; (ii) guidance-through-workshops, where participants from home-care services met with labor inspectors to receive information and discuss relevant topics; and (iii) the control group. Data on employee self-reported health (N=1669) were collected at baseline and 6 and 12 months after the interventions. Additionally, registry data (N=1202) on diagnosis specific physician-certified sick leave were collected for 18 months after the interventions.

Results We found no statistically significant effects of either intervention on self-reported health outcomes. There was, for both interventions, a pattern of decrease in days and periods of physician-certified sick leave due to musculoskeletal diagnoses and increase in days and periods of physician-certified sick leave due to psychological diagnoses, but these were not statistically significant.

Conclusion Labor inspections and guidance-through-workshops had no statistically significant effect on self-reported health and physician-certified sick leave. The results should be interpreted with caution given the low response rate and subsequent attrition, and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Future studies, in various industries, should further elucidate whether regulatory tools influence employee health and sick leave due to musculoskeletal and mental disorders.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2006;32(6):443-462  2019;45(2):103-113