Almost one in three Norwegian companies have violated Covid-19 measures, according to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, which has carried more than 5,000 un-announced inspections across Norway this year.
In around 30 percent of inspections this year, the watchdog found one or more breaches of coronavirus regulations.
“The entire Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, with its inspectors at the forefront, has done its utmost to help prevent the spread of infection in Norway in general, and in the workplace in particular. This work is still in full swing in the wake of the pandemic,” Director of the Norwegian Protection Authority, Trude Vollheim, said in the report.
In 81 cases, inspectors temporarily shut down a company’s operations entirely due to the risk of infection spreading on the premises. Most breaches were related to accommodation provided by an employer.
“Shutting them (the companies) is the most effective tool we have in the short term, and it has been used when we have identified employees who should be in quarantine,” Vollheim, director of the watchdog, said.
Most breaches are met with an order to rectify the issue, but some companies have been slapped with fines. The watchdog has dished out 31 fines so far in 2021.
Fines for the Covid breaches rules being broken can range between 50,000 and 1.1 million kroner depending on the severity of the violation, the risk of infection spreading and the company’s finances.
“The vast majority of employers follow the rules, and the vast majority of cases where we find a breach, it is probably also a case that companies want to do the right thing. With changing regulations, it can be challenging to stay up to date with everything, but it is still the business’s responsibility to stay up to date. Unfortunately, there are a few who do not care, and such behaviour is completely unacceptable. They must be found and punished,” Vollheim added.
The breaches have become less severe throughout the year, according to Wollheim.
Businesses in construction, car sales, and accommodation were the most likely to be inspected by the watchdog.