Historical and contemporary challenges to occupational safety and health in Latvia

Charles Woolfson, Ivars Vanadzins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the historical and contemporary challenges created for occupational safety and health in the EU member state of Latvia, which joined the European Union in 20It examines the historical background for the determinants of workplace health and safety in Latvia as a former Soviet republic, and thereafter, following independence from the USSR in 1991, as an open-market neoliberal economy. These divergent contexts have set a problematic trajectory of reactive path dependency with respect to the regulation of occupational safety and health.

With the onset of the economic and financial crisis of 2008 onwards, Latvia suffered a particularly sharp economic downturn. We suggest that previous limited advances made in the management of occupational safety and health at the workplace level since accession to the European Union may have been undermined. Ever since the crisis, business and policy actors have sought to promote rapid economic recovery as the overall priority, at the expense of protective occupational safety and health regulation. This approach was brought into sharp relief with the collapse of the Maxima supermarket roof in Riga in November 2013, resulting in 54 fatalities. The event has raised debates on the enforcement of safety regulation in the new era of neoliberal austerity to a greater level of public salience, although with, as yet, uncertain policy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-65
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy and Practice in Health and Safety
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Austerity
  • Economic crisis
  • EU member states
  • Latvia
  • Occupational safety and health

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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