Here we will present how working environment and wellbeing are affected by the regulatory regimes of the state, with a special emphasis on the role of the labour inspection authorities in Denmark and Norway. As for the activities of the regulatory authorities in both countries, we highlight aspects of their measures that relate to the role of the social parties, the psychosocial and organizational working environment, and employee participation.

Both Denmark and Norway score high on the working environment index in Europe. However, both countries still face emerging workplace challenges. Some major trends, such as increasing international competition and new management principles, decreasing support for unions, and neo-liberal inspired wishes for a shift towards soft regulation are likely to change the nature of the working environment and the role of labour inspection. In addition, more directly related shifts are part of the challenges: intensified efforts by the labour inspectorate authorities to curb the labour market black economy may weaken the traditional role of labour inspection, and a changing perception of who is mainly responsible for working environment measures seems to diminish the role of employee participation.