A Danish OSH review: The direct link between psychosocial working environments and the quality of teaching


ETUCE’s Danish member organisation, DLF, has published a policy paper on ‘Teachers’ psychosocial working environment and its impact on quality teaching and retention of teachers’ (2016). The Danish Working Environment Authority has found that teachers are experiencing high emotional demands whilst working with students with special needs. Teachers are exposed to violence within schools; both physical and psychological, as well as traumatic situations such aggressive behaviour from students and their parents. Hence, the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment releases a bi-annual research survey titled “Working Environment and Health in Denmark” to highlight the issues that teachers face at work in primary and lower secondary schools.

The survey results are enlightening: Work-related stress has had negative consequences for the quality of teaching in schools which is evident in the increase in sick leaves from teachers thereby, creating more strain at the workplace; 59% of teachers felt that stress was mainly due to work. Moreover, the survey highlighted that heavy work load and time pressure are key factors affecting the retention of teachers. The survey found that 33% of teachers stated that their private life is affected by work thus, implying that time pressure has induced stress levels of teachers and has created a clash between work and private life. 50% of teachers are emotionally affected by their work in comparison to the average of 24% in the survey, showing that those in the teaching profession are exposed to the most emotional demands. Lastly, the survey concluded that 19% of teachers have experienced violence at work and threats against them has risen to 23% in 2016. This policy states that teachers are exposed to violence, threats and bullying in schools which in turn creates psychological or physical strain and stress for teachers.

ETUCE draws attention to the importance of promoting healthy and safe workplaces within the education sector as this fosters a healthier working life for teachers and helps to improve the quality of education which is beneficial to everyone. ETUCE emphasises the need to create practical ways to prevent and combat work-related stress through the implementation of concrete practical guidelines on ways to promote joint social partner initiatives at national, regional and local level, as concluded from the ETUCE/EFEE project on social partners promoting decent workplaces in education.

More recently, ETUCE/EFEE are running a project focused on two online tools aimed to identify and assess risks in schools and to test the degree of OSH policies’ implementation in schools.