All employees in Sweden have the right to a good work environment according to the Work Environment Act. We work for healthy, safe and developing service conditions, and it is our task to see that companies and organisations follow the law.
Good service conditions benefit the individual, the organisation and society. Our goal is to reduce risks of ill health and accidents in working life and improve the work environment. We believe that everyone wants to and can create a good work environment. We thus strive towards each workplace having active work environment management, where everyone can contribute.
Provisions and rules
We have about 80 legally binding provisions in the work environment area that we continually work to improve. Our ambition is that our rules and provisions will become clearer, more accessible and directed at areas where they will be of the most benefit.
Sanction fees instead of fines
Earlier, several stipulations in our provisions carried penalties. This means that one could be sentenced to fines if one broke them. After a legislative amendment, from 1 July 2014 several rules are combined with a sanction fee. The difference is that fines are a penalty one is sentenced to in a court, while sanction fees are fees one pays. Information about which rules are covered and what sanction fees can entail are on our website.
Systematic work environment management
Systematic work environment management means the employer’s work with investigating, carrying out and following up in such a way that ill health and accidents at work are prevented and a satisfactory work environment achieved.
Our four-year program for systematic work environment management to increase knowledge and improve the application of it in working life has now covered three years. It is an umbrella for different activities with the focus on information, inspection and cooperation, and there are also safety culture activities.
Women’s work environment
Women are affected to a greater extent than men by work-related ill health. The Swedish Work Environment Authority received in 2011 an extra assignment from the government; to reveal and improve women’s work environment. The focus was on the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
Three years’ work with this assignment has given us much new knowledge. We have, for example, compiled a knowledge overview that shows why women are affected more by musculoskeletal disorders than men. The causes are partly about our gender-segregated labour market but also that women have more repetitive and monotonous working tasks than men. With the aim of facilitating the employers’ work with preventing strain injuries, we have developed new assessment tools and used them in more than 4 000 inspections.
Another knowledge overview shows how norms and values steer the working conditions for women and men. When we added a gender perspective to our supervision it showed clearly that the gender pattern in society, that is that the man is the norm, is also found in working life. Here it is important that our supervision and also all employers’ work environment management has a gender perspective.
At the beginning of 2015 we gave our final report to the government. At the same time we published a number of short films on our website. The films summarise our mission and aim at disseminating our experiences and involving more employers.
We have received the task of continuing our work with women’s work environment during 2015. This entails, among other things, that we observe International Women’s Day on the 8th March in connection with regular inspections and that we continue to inspect female-dominated sectors.
Many schools inspected
School is Sweden’s biggest workplace in terms of how many people are simultaneously covered by the Work Environment Act. To prevent employees and pupils from being injured or becoming sick, the country’s schools must drive systematic work environment management. This does not happen to a sufficient extent today. Therefore, in the autumn of 2013 we began a campaign of inspections of primary, secondary and upper secondary schools.
By 2016 we will have inspected 30 per cent of the country’s schools and all larger education providers. All schools and education providers will receive campaign information, and the tools and educations available on our website so that they can start or develop their systematic work environment management.
We wish to contribute to a school work environment with less stress, more security and better physical relationships.
National inspection of building and installation work
The building sector is one of the most accident-prone fields in the country. Accidents and occupational illnesses are twice as common among building workers than among other employees. Building and installation worksites are living workplaces where the conditions change all the time. Building projects are often split, with many contractors from several sectors. The proportion of foreign workers and temporary personnel is increasing. Our register of companies who post employees in Sweden shows that the building sector is the single largest sector that registers foreign manpower. It requires therefore good planning where everyone who is in the process – builders, project managers, building work environment coordinators and employers – take their responsibility to see that the work environment is always taken into consideration. This applies to planning and projection such as during the construction of a building or installation.
During 2015-2017, we are inspecting building and installation work over the whole country. Because the building process is complex and there are many people responsible for different areas, the supervision is divided into several directions. We put the most resources into the small construction companies and less into the larger ones, but with the same goal; to reduce accidents and ill health in the sector. We also inspect those who are responsible for the early stage of the building process, for example building contractors and building work environment coordinators. This so that, even here, there will be good conditions created for work environment in the building stage.
Accessibility and equality
We are one of several authorities who have responsibility to realise the policy that deals with activity limitations within the area of work environment. We work with driving questions about accessibility as a natural part of our work environment management and our supervisory tasks. The work environment needs to function for all employees with different prerequisites, be that physical, social, psychological and cognitive.
We also contribute to achieving the gender equality policy goals that aim at women and men having the same power to shape society and their own lives. We make sure to integrate our decisions and processes from a gender equality perspective to ensure that our organisation corresponds to peoples’ needs and their right to a good work environment.
The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s activities have an effect upon the environment, so we are continually working to reduce our environmental impact. We place environmental demands during procurement, try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions during our business trips, and reduce energy consumption in our premises.
Healthy workplaces prevent stress
Every year, EU countries carry out a joint campaign during the European work environment week in October. The theme for the campaign, which was carried out last year and which continues this year as well, is psychosocial risks. The campaign in Sweden consists of a supervision campaign, external communication efforts and a concluding work environment parliament where we summarise the year’s results.
Statistics and analysis
On assignment from the government we collect and compile statistics on occupational injuries. In addition to reports of occupational injuries, every other year investigations are made about how the working population experiences their work environment and the difficulties it brings. We identify trends and correlations around work environment and occupational injuries.
The preliminary statistics for 2014 indicate the number of reported occupational injuries has dropped during 2014 compared with 2013, but fatal accidents have increased. We follow and report changes that occur during 2015.
Patterns and links which can be seen are important for the direction of our inspection and communication efforts. In addition to the official statistical report that comes out in June, we also give out fact sheets about work environment.
During the year we follow up and analyse the knowledge and application of systematic work environment management in the country’s workplaces. We plan to develop deeper analyses of three areas:
- increased risk of occupational injury/accident
- analyses of positive work environment indicators based on questions about organisation of work and especially good work
- systematic work environment management in Swedish working life.
We disseminate knowledge about working life research
An important part of our work is to inform about research that has significance for working relationships in society. We work actively to convey information in an understandable and accessible way in order for as many as possible to have practical use of it. This we do via monitoring, collecting, compiling and disseminating research-based knowledge about work environment and working life. We publish different reports, so called knowledge compilations, where renowned researchers summarise actual experiences and research results within a number of themes.
We run active market surveillance, which means that we check that products that are released onto the market fulfil basic health, environmental and safety requirements. We are responsible for market surveillance of a great number of products where joint rules within the EU apply for several of them.
Machines are the product group that is the most challenging in the EU to run market surveillance within. The variation of machines is large and the development is fast. When it comes to machines we are responsible for both those that are used by employees, and by private people. We prioritise supervision of products that entail great safety risks if they are not safe.
We participate internationally in order to, in the role of government expert authority, influence the development of European work environment policy. We argue the importance of a good work environment and offensive work environment management. A good work environment promotes health and personal development for women and men, success for companies and organisations as well as growth and prosperity for society, both in Sweden and abroad.
We contribute to the EU’s work with directives, standardisation and market surveillance, and we participate in Nordic and European development work. During 2015, we will be focusing especially on the Commission’s evaluation of the European work environment legislation as well as a new European work environment strategy.
Register for posted workers
We are responsible for building up and administering a national register of posted workers. A posted employee is a person who is sent to another country by their employer to work there for a limited time.
Foreign employers who post employees to Sweden are obliged to register when the posting occurs and to appoint a contact person. The registration can be done via our website. The information in the report makes it easier for the authorities and partners on the labour market to ensure the posted employees’ rights in Sweden. We also exercise supervision to see that the rules are followed.
Last updated 2016-09-21