Based on the different national and bibliographic evaluations of occupational health and safety (OSH) research, Nordic occupational health research has held a strong position worldwide over the last 30 years. Scandinavian countries produce 15-20% of the top new scientific research in the OSH field and are responsible for a growing number of "citation classics". The occupational health share of the total public health publications is thus much higher in the Nordic countries than elsewhere. In relation to their respective populations, the Nordic countries OSH expertise can be considered "world class".

Nordic countries generally share similar OSH values in an international context. They have important social similarities and strong traditions in occupational health research that have benefitted from cross-border cooperation. They have similarities in national OSH legislation, regulations, standards, and guidelines, and all face somewhat similar challenges in public health. One of the problems common to Nordic countries has been a high rate of sickness absence. All Nordic countries have focused on activating employees with reduced work ability and supporting them in continuing and returning to work.

Nordic countries also have a strong tradition of cooperation. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, and the Norwegian National Institute of Occupational Health have published Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health for the last 35 years. For a long time, the Journal has been among the world top ranked OSH journals. In addition, the Nordic institutes have a long tradition in the organization of scientific meetings on OSH. In scientific research, cooperation has focused on the areas of occupational epidemiology, ergonomics, research on musculoskeletal problems, effects from psychosocial working conditions including shift work, occupational toxicology and the effects of exposure to noise, indoor cli¬mate research, and reproductive epidemiology.

Coupled with changes in national institutes and organizations and the growing internationalization of research, a need has emerged to launch a new legal basis to enable continuous cooperation not only among Nordic countries but also internationally among the research community. The outcome is NOROSH.