A construction site in Stockholm. Photo: Anders Wiklund/Scanpix.
On the job

Fewer safety inspections at construction sites

The number of construction companies has doubled in the past five years. But the number of inspectors and inspections at the Work Environment Authority has dropped, reports Swedish Radio.

It is more common these days for several different companies to work together on one construction site. Experts say this development is due to a more open movement in Europe, but also because the construction industry in Sweden has more work to do.

In the past five years, the number of employees in the construction industry has doubled. There has been a 75 jump in the number of building companies.

Ola Månsson, the head of the Swedish Construction Federation that represents the interests of the construction industry, says the so-called ROT program is one reason for the increase. The ROT program allows for tax-rebates for reconstruction or development of houses and property.

Månsson says smaller companies have benefited from the ROT boom. But while he thinks safety standards are good in Sweden, he says many companies skimp on safety.

"There are rules requiring workers to have a safety vest and helmet, but it's the attitudes on construction sites that need to change," he says. "It's scary sometimes when you see companies doing smaller jobs on condominiums. People don't use helmets, they don't have the right protection, and they use tools incorrectly. We want the authorities to strengthen controls at construction sites so it becomes more regular and so we can get help with this."

The Work Environment Authority agrees. But the numbers of inspections have dropped by 10 percent since 2005. Mikael Sjöberg, the Authority's general director, says the agency has had to make cuts because it has a smaller budget.

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