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4. Statutory Powers

Statutory text:

Section 1 

The Government or the authority decided by the Government is allowed to, in questions of technical provisions or substances which can cause illness or accident, notify regulation as

  1. conditions of manufacture, use and labelling or other product information, 
  2. testing or inspection to ensure that prescribed requirements or conditions are satisfied, and
  3. The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations on the design and use of protective equipment against falls to a lower level.

Section 2

If necessary to prevent ill health or accidents at work, the Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations stating that a permit, authorisation or other proof of compliance with the relevant demands is required before 

  1. work processes, work methods or facilities may be used, and
  2. technical devices or substances that could lead to ill health or accidents are released on the market, used or delivered for use.

Section 3 

The Government or the authority appointed by the government may issue regulations stating that 

1. a list must be kept at the workplace of current technical devices of a specific type or certain substances that could lead to ill health or accidents, and
2. the employer must keep a register of employees exposed to any substance that could cause ill health, with details of the work and exposure levels, and the employer must provide data from the register to the doctor. 


The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may also issue regulations on the investigation of safety conditions in certain types of activities and the installation of technical devices.
An employee shall, on request, be given the opportunity to read the information concerning him or her in the register under the first paragraph 2. 

Section 4

If it is of particular importance from the safety aspect, the Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations prohibiting the use of work processes, work methods or technical devices or substances that could lead to ill health or accidents. 

Section 5 

If a type of work involves the risk of ill health or accident, the Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations on the obligation to arrange medical examination or vaccination or other preventive treatment against infection for those who are employed or are to be employed for such work.

The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may also issue regulations prohibiting the employment of someone for the work whose medical examination has indicated an illness or weakness which makes him or her particularly susceptible to the risk of ill health or accident. 

Section 6

If a job entails special risks for certain groups of employees, the Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations prohibiting the work from being performed by employees that belong to such a group or that special conditions shall apply when the work is performed by such employees. 

Section 7

The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations to keep a register of medical examinations referred to in Sections 5 and 6 with information on the names and results of those examined. 

Section 8 

The Government or the authority decided by the Government is allowed to notify regulation as 

1. preliminary application
      a) when it is regarding obligation for the person who orders execution of building or construction work to make sure  that such a report is submitted to the supervisory authority, and
      b) in general, and

2. the obligation to in general make a report or provide information to supervisory authorities or to store files which are of significance from a protection point of view. 

The Government or the authority decided by the Government is further allowed to notify regulation as

1. that the person who orders execution of building or construction work shall make sure that
      a) a work environment  plan is established,
      b) for the project type suitable documentation is drawn up to be considered at following jobs, and
      c)  the work environment  plan and documentation is appropriate in consideration to how the work proceeds and the eventual changes that have taken place,

2. that a building work environment co-ordinator in accordance with Chapter 3 Section 7 a shall establish or have established a work environment  plan  and draw up such documentation as mentioned in 1,

3. that a building work environment  co-ordinator in accordance with  Chapter 3 Section 7 b shall see to that necessary adjustments of a work environment  plan  and such documentation as mentioned in 1 are carried out, and

4. obligation to in general establish documents which are of significance from a protection point of view.

Section 9 

The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue regulations on the obligation for doctors to report any illness which may be related to work to the supervisory authority and provide them with information and assistance.

Section 10

The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may issue additional regulations on the nature of the work environment and general obligations regarding the work environment that are needed to prevent ill health and accidents at work.

The Government or the authority appointed by the Government may also issue regulations stating that a person who, either alone or with a family member, runs commercial operations without any employee must comply with this Act and regulations that have been issued under the Act regarding obligations in other respects than those stated in Chapter 3, Section 5, paragraph 2.


Comments on Chapter 4:

The power of the Work Environment Authority to issue Provisions

In Chap. 4 of the Work Environment Act, the Parliament has given the Government extensive power to issue Provisions concerning the working environment. In the Work Environment Ordinance, the Government has further entrusted these powers to the Work Environment Authority. Over the years the Authority has issued a large number of rules. At present there are in the Work Environment Authority’s statute book (AFS) approximately 100 current regulation books and general counsels.

Formally speaking, General Recommendations cannot form the basis of stipulations by the supervisory authority. In individual cases, on the other hand, stipulations can be given the same wording as a recommendation, but if so this has to be supported by the authority of a Section of the Work Environment Act. This is conditional on the authority having found the wording of the recommendation to make a suitable stipulation in the particular case involved.

Inspection of technical devices and dangerous substances 

An important part of developing a work environment is the control of technical equipment and hazardous substances. The Swedish Work Environment Authority has the authority to set requirements for product control, product information and use with regard to such equipment and subsances. The Swedish Work Environment Authority may also intervene against the release of such products on the market.

The main provision in the fourth chapter is Section 1, point 1 of this provision. Read together with Section 18 of the Work Environment Ordinance, the Swedish Work Environment Authority is given the right to set terms and conditions for a produkt in all stages that determine its safety and design. The terms and conditions may concern anything from construcion and manufacturing to marketing and use. The Swedish Work Environment Authority may for example set requirements for quality systems needed to ensure the product provides a sufficient degree of safety. This authority is linked to the requirements of EU product legislation and facilitates adaption of the Swedish regulations to these requirements. 

In accordance with point 3 in Section 1 regulations can be notified which means prohibition against releasing products with certain technical properties on the market. The regulations can also state conditions for the release of some products or in other way limit the first provision on the market. Such rules must be able to be issued in Sweden for us to be able to live up to the EU’s demands on implementation of certain decisions that the commission can make with support of the machinery directive. Through such decisions the commission can decide that the member states shall prohibit or limit the possibility to release certain types of particularly dangerous machines to the market.

The same point also confers a power of issuing Provisions on labelling and other product information concerning machinery and other technical equipment or concerning dangerous substances. This can apply, for example, to signage with handling rules, warning texts or other labelling. It can also apply, for example, to requirements concerning declaration of the noise or vibration properties of a machine in connection with marketing.

By authority of Section 1, point 2, all the Provisions on testing and inspection can be issued which are necessary for compliance with the product testing and inspection procedures applying within the EU. This can also, for example, involve the question of testing through special “notified bodies”. 

The Authority make the use of certain work processes, working methods or facilities subject to prior permission, prior approval or other certification of compliance with current requirements. The Authority can also decide that certain machines, other technical devices or substances may not be delivered or used without such permission, approval or other certificate of conformity(Section 2). The expression “certificate of conformity” refers to such documents as manufacturers’ declarations, type certificates or certificates from registered bodies under the EC Product Directives.

List of machinery and dangerous substances 

The Work Environment Authority may require employers to keep lists of machinery and technical equipment or certain chemical products used in an activity (Section 3). The Authority can also demand investigation of safety conditions in a certain type of activity. This can, for example, mean measuring noise or air pollution. Furthermore, the Authority may prescribe the way in which technical devices are to be installed. 

Exposure register 

Some EC Directives require the employer to keep a list of the employees who have been exposed to certain dangerous substances. That list must also include particulars of the nature of the work and the extent of the exposure. The Work Environment Act has therefore been made to include a stipulation empowering the Work Environment Authority to make provision concerning such registers (Section 3).

Prohibitions 

Certain kinds of machinery and other technical equipment, chemical products, work processes or working methods can entail such great risks to the employees that their use should not be permitted at all. A general prohibition of their use can then be issued by the Work Environment Authority (Section 4).

Medical examinations etc. 

The Work Environment Act presumes that the employer provide the resources necessary for a modern work environment control and for monitoring employees’ conditions in terms of safety and health. The employer must take responsibility for measurement, sampling, analysis and evaluation being conducted to a sufficient extent. The employer also incurs a general duty of ensuring that health supervision and medical checks materialise when needed. This is where occupational health services come in. The aim is for all employees to have access to occupational health services.

If a certain type of work entails a risk of ill-health or accidents, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions making it the duty of the employer to provide medical examinations for the employees. Provisions of this kind may include both examination before hiring and regular examinations for the duration of employment. The Authority may also prescribe vaccination or other types of preventive treatment (Section 5) and make provision concerning the duty of keeping records of medical examinations performed.

The Act employs the expression “arrange for medical examination”. This is taken to include a duty of organising the medical examination, inviting the employees to undergo it, paying for the investigation and ensuring that none but persons who have undergone the examination are employed on the hazardous work.

No special stipulations for women

The Work Environment Act does not contain any special stipulations concerning women. Certain groups of employees may, however, be particularly vulnerable to hazards of the working environment. Special risks, for example, may be incurred by expectant mothers. The Work Environment Authority may therefore prohibit the employment of certain groups at risk on a certain kind of work. The Authority may also lay down other, special conditions for work, e.g. that the employer is to make arrangements for medical examination (Section 6).

Physicians’ duty of notification 

This Chapter also authorises the Work Environment Authority to issue Provisions making it the duty of physicians to notify the Authority of cases of illness which may be connected with work (Section 9).

Further provisions on the working environment

This Chapter ends with a general empowerment of the Work Environment Authority to issue further Provisions on the working environment and concerning obligations relating to it (Section 10). Thus empowered, the Authority can issue Provisions not mentioned in other Sections of this Chapter. Unlike other Provisions by authority of Chap. 4, however, those based on this empowerment do not carry direct penal sanctions; the question of penalties only arises if there is a breach of a prohibition or injunction issued by the Work Environment Authority. In practice, most of the Authority’s Provisions are issued under the power conferred in Section 10.

This Section also enables the Authority to decide in certain fields that the Act and the Authority’s Provisions are to be more extensively applied to one-man and family undertakings than is indicated by Chap. 3, Section 5. This is connected with certain EC Directives making heavier demands on such undertakings than has hitherto been the case in Sweden. A corresponding empowerment has previously been exercised in the Provisions of the Work Environment Authority on construction work.