Questions and answers about building and civil engineering work

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What counts as building or civil engineering work?

Both small and big work can count as building and civil engineering work. The work can last anywhere from a single hour to several years. The number of employees can be equally varied, from one employee to hundreds of employees. The entrepreneurs or employers can also vary in number.

The work that will be carried out can vary, such as to:

  • build a house, apartment block or industrial premises
  • maintain the abovementioned buildings through painting, replacing roof-covering, replacing windows or redoing installations (for example electricity, ventilation, sanitation and heating installations) that are necessary for the building itself
  • build a foundation for different types of buildings
  • build roads, bridges, tunnels, or wind power stations
  • install or carry out so-called servicing for drainage, electricity, district heating, cooling, gas, or fibre network through excavation, laying pipes/cables or connecting these
  • demolish buildings or part of the building material in a building.

The typical building moments are:

  1. excavation
  2. earthmoving work
  3. construction work
  4. assembly and disassembly of prefabricated elements
  5. fitting or installation of necessary equipment for the basic functions of the building
  6. alteration
  7. renovation
  8. repairs
  9. dismantling
  10. demolition
  11. on-going maintenance
  12. periodic maintenance – painting and cleaning work
  13. drainage
  14. sanitation.

Keep in mind that the work must be necessary for the building or facility itself and not to, for example, be able to install/maintain other equipment in an industry (machines, boilers, tanks) that are primarily needed for it to function.

It is not just the work during construction that is covered by our regulations, but also the planning and designing.

Can smaller work for private persons (consumer relationship) be considered building or civil engineering work?

The regulations always apply, irrespective of who the client is. This applies when the work is carried out professionally and for compensation (monetary or the equivalent) for the service. Compensation can also be when one exchanges services with one another through, for example, a carpenter building a deck for an electrician who in turn carries out electrical installation in the carpenter’s house.

Keep in mind that small jobs for private persons often entail an increased responsibility for the entrepreneur to also be responsible for tasks that normally rest upon the client. The Consumer Services Act means that the entrepreneur most often becomes the client's delegee. Read more about your responsibility as a private person.

Responsibility during building and civil engineering work

If private persons do diverse work on their house by themselves, without the help of artisans, the Swedish Work Environment Authority regulations do not apply.

What is a work environment plan? 

It is a document describing how a building or facility should be able to be built safely with regard to a good work environment. It states how the construction site is organised, describes collective rules, and tells who is responsible for what, what risks there are, and how they should be prevented.

The work environment plan must be developed during the planning and execution of a building/premises/facility through, among other things, the choice of building products and methods. It must be drawn up in writing, at the latest when construction work starts. It is the client and Bas-P (the building work environment coordinator for planning and design) who are responsible for this. If there is no work environment plan, they may have to pay a sanction fee.

The work environment plan should later be developed and adapted during the construction stage, with descriptions of the construction site’s on-going work by Bas-U (the building work environment coordinator for execution). Bas-U must also see that this plan is accessible so that everyone can see it. Bas-U can have to pay sanction fees if the work environment plan is not available in written or digital format at the construction site.

The client always has a parallel responsibility for the tasks that both Bas-P (the building work environment coordinator for planning and design) and Bas-U (the building work environment coordinator for execution) must carry out. 

Keep in mind that there must be a work environment plan at a joint workplace. Each designer or entrepreneur should submit their background documents, such as risk-assessments, preparation material, or descriptions that have significance for the work environment, to the building work environment coordinators (Bas-P or Bas-U), who coordinate the work environment.

When must there be a work environment plan?

Nearly all building and civil engineering work demands a work environment plan because it most often contains risks in the work according to the list of working tasks that require a work environment plan according to 12 a § second section C in the provision about building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng). In addition, the work environment plan is always required, irrespective of risks, if the work is so comprehensive that prior notification is required.

Building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng), provisions

Work with risks according to 12 a § second section C is:

  • work with risk of falls from height (all work from two metres and above)
  • excavation work with risk of collapse
  • work with certain chemical or biological substances (also, for example, dust)
  • work in the vicinity of high voltage power lines
  • work that brings with it the risk of drowning
  • work in wells and tunnels
  • work during which explosives are used
  • work with the assembly of heavy prefabricated elements
  • work in a place or area with passing vehicular traffic (for example beside a road or track)
  • demolition of load-bearing structures or health-endangering material or substances.

This means that both small and large work can need a work environment plan.

Common ’smaller’ work where there almost always has to be a work environment plan is: 

  • work with asbestos
  • roof work with, for example, relaying of roof covering
  • painting or sheet metal work
  • painting of a house
  • fixed electrical installations in a building/facility
  • facade work over two metres
  • ditch work where there is a risk of collapse
  • excavation in a street
  • laying/work with pipes/drainage
  • most demolitions.

Who should create the work environment plan? 

The client (client's delegee), i.e. the party who commissions building or civil engineering work, is the one who has the utmost responsibility to make sure that there is a work environment plan, together with their building work environment coordinators at the collective construction site.

The work environment plans must always exist before work begins on a construction site where there is work with risks according to 12 a § in the provision about building and civil engineering work. If the work environment plan is missing, the client or Bas-P can have to pay a sanction fee.

When work is planned and designed, it is Bas-P (the building work environment co-ordinator for planning and design) who is responsible. Bas-P must collect background material from the different designers and examine it so that there are no work environment risks. Bas-P must establish the work environment plan from their documents at the latest by the time the construction site is established.

During execution it is Bas-U (the building work environment co-ordinator for execution) who should adapt and co-ordinate the work in the work environment plan to the actual work that is carried out. Bas-U should gather background material (risk assessments) from the different entrepreneurs in order to co-ordinate and plan the work. Bas-U is responsible for it being accessible (written or digital) to everyone at the construction site. If it is not, Bas-U can have to pay a sanction fee.

Entrepreneurs need to know who is responsible for the work environment plan, partly to know about them but also to leave information about the risks in their work to the person who is Bas-U. The designer also needs to find out who is dealing with the Bas-P tasks.

If you are a sole entrepreneur you should think about how the contract looks between you and the party commissioning the work, regarding who is responsible for the work environment plan. If the commissioning party wants you to take upon yourself the tasks of the work environment plan, such as Bas-U or Bas-P, it is required that you have knowledge, competence and the experience for it (see particularly 6 § AFS 1999:3Eng).

Do not forget that work for a private person, so-called consumer construction, can mean that the responsibility instead ends up on you as entrepreneur to have the same responsibility as the client. This means that you have a number of obligations, such as the work environment plan, but in general also that which is described when it comes to the client's responsibility. You need to make sure you have the right knowledge.

Building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng), provisions

What should the work environment plan contain? 

The work environment plan should contain a description of which regulations apply at the construction site, how it is organised, and a description of the risks, as well as how these will be prevented. More detailed information is in the provision on building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng).

Building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng), provisions

The building sector has jointly drawn up a suggestion for a work environment plan that can be found at www.ampguiden.net.

AMP-Guide’s website, opens in a new window

During smaller and shorter work, a simplified work environment plan can be used on condition that it contains the necessary information.

If an entrepreneur carries out shorter work with the same working tasks, a type of general work environment plan can be used as a basis. It can later be updated for different objects and with possible additional risks.

In most cases it is also appropriate that the work environment plan is supplemented with general joint work environment risks over and above those that there are requirements for in 12a § point C in AFS 1993:03Eng. The risks we specifically wish to describe and prevent are:

  • ergonomic risks
  • risks with machines and vehicles
  • risks with hoisting devices and lifting apparatus
  • risks with noise.

Dust (quartz) is a further risk factor that is often forgotten despite it belonging to our chemical risks. Read a more detailed description of work with risks within the construction sector.

Risks during building and civil engineering work

Who can be Bas-P?

Bas-P (building work environment co-ordinator for planning and design) must be a legal (a company) or natural (an individual person) person who commands persons with education competence and experience in order to be able to run the actual building project’s work environment management. The client appoints Bas-P.

The client must be able to show that the Bas-P they have appointed has the right education, competence and experience.

There is more detailed information about suitable theoretical education for Bas-P in our provisions. In short, it means theoretical knowledge about the work environment legislation that is relevant to the work that will be carried out in the construction project, as well as corresponding practical experience.

Must there always be a Bas-P?

Yes, almost always, because most construction work requires some type of planning. Sometimes there can be exceptions such as with shorter work where one already knows what is going to be done.

What happens with the question of responsibility when we change Bas-P during a building project? 

Every Bas-P (building work environment coordinator for planning and design) has responsibility for their work. With a change of Bas-P it can be suitable that one has some type of reconciliation or handover meeting in order to document what has been done and what will be done, together with the developer. The person who takes over needs to familiarise themselves with earlier work in order to know how things stand. Do not forget that the client/client's delegee has a ’backup’ responsibility for the Bas-P working tasks.

What does Bas-U do?

Bas-U (the building work environment coordinator for execution) coordinates and plans the collective work environment during the construction phase. This means that Bas-U must coordinate the work from a work environment perspective, adapt the work environment plan to how the work is actually carried out, check that the work is carried out in a correct way from a work environment perspective, see that the work environment plan is accessible, and follow up to make sure that the work environment plan is being followed.

Bas-U is responsible for:

  • safety rounds
  • time planning
  • joint safety devices
  • checks of machines that have to be inspected
  • checks that certain occupational groups have the right knowledge and competence
  • that there is staff space with a changing room, shower and toilets.

How great a responsibility does Bas-U have?

The building work environment coordinator’s tasks during the building phase cover more than the earlier applicable coordination responsibility; the coordinator does not just have responsibility for pure coordination questions at the construction site, but must also coordinate measures for checks of whether the entrepreneurs/employers at the construction site follow applicable work environment regulations of the current building work and the current work environment plan. The building work environment coordinator must therefore continually keep themselves informed and updated about the work environment management of the entrepreneurs at the construction site, and have some sort of control or monitoring system. Examples of such systems could be joint safety rounds or workplace meets, regular follow-ups with the entrepreneurs, and spot checks.

This applies even if the client/client's delegee carry out the work with their own employees or by hiring only one entrepreneur, who in their turn carries out the work with only their own employees.

Observe that the coordination responsibility that the building work environment coordinator has, never reduces the work environment responsibility of each individual entrepreneur who carries out activities at the construction site. If shortcomings occur in one entrepreneur’s work environment management at the construction site, it is firstly the entrepreneur themselves and not the building work environment coordinator that has an obligation to fix the shortcomings.

Is the usual Better Work Environment education (BAM) sufficient as training for building work environment coordinators?

No, BAM contains basic work environment knowledge, and is not sufficient education for a building work environment coordinator.

Which working tasks remain with the client after a building work environment co-ordinator has been appointed? 

The client always has a so-called backup responsibility, even for the working tasks that one has appointed a building work environment co-ordinator to carry out. This means that the responsibility is doubled through the entire process. The client must follow up the working tasks that the building work environment co-ordinators (Bas-P and Bas-U) should carry out and see that all documentation (for example the work environment plan) is accessible and up to date.

The client is, at the same time, solely responsible for the prior notification being made to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. This is required for larger construction sites according to the provisions on building and civil engineering work, AFS 1999:03Eng. 

What should the client do, purely practically, to think about the work environment?

What the client needs to do will vary from project to project. The client must, together with their designers, make sure to think of the prerequisites during the construction stage and for the completed building in the usage stage.

This means that planning and design should be done in good time before the execution (construction) starts. The client has responsibility for taking the following into account:

  • how the design or placement of the building can influence work environment or how other choices, for example of building products, structures, frame systems, installations or fittings can have significance for a good work environment
  • that construction times are adapted so that different work can be carried out safely, have a reasonable timeframe to be completed, as well as being able to be co-ordinated
  • make sure that there are good possibilities to transport material, equipment or demolition waste for a good work environment
  • make sure that there are possibilities and space to establish changing facilities and offices for the activities needed by the construction project
  • investigate and take stock of whether there is health-endangering material that can affect the building project before demolition, rebuilding or renovation
  • make sure that the stability of a building or a facility will be safe through all the building stages during demolition, rebuilding or renovation
  • how a building or facility needs to be designed, keeping in mind what work will be carried out during the usage stage. This can mean adaptation of spaces for future maintenance (ventilation, chimney cleaning, electrical installations and so on) or for future activities with specific requirements (health care, social care, school, industry, office, commerce and more).

In practice this means that the client's designers and building work environment co-ordinators have a great responsibility to take these points into consideration for the client in their work.

Who is responsible for the building work environment coordinator tasks if there isn’t a building work environment co-ordinator?

According to the Work Environment Act, the client always has a responsibility for the tasks the building work environment co-ordinator should carry out. If the client has not appointed a building work environment co-ordinator he/she always has the responsibility for these tasks anyway.

What requirements should apply about how the building work environment co-ordinator’s competence is to be documented?

Experience can be proven through grades or certificates from present or previous employers, completed education can be proven through course certificates. There is no formal requirement for these. If we are doubtful about the client's information, we can request documentation that reinforces the suitability of the building work environment coordinator.

May one build a scaffold from wood?

Yes, but it requires special training for those who will erect, significantly alter or dismantle the scaffold. In addition, special documentation is required, which shows satisfactory strength and stability with the highest intended load. Such documentation almost always consists of calculations. Other documentation can be test checks or technical drawings of complicated scaffold structures.

What education corresponds to special training for scaffolders?

If you have a certificate of professional competence (issued by the Swedish Scaffolding Contractors Association, STIB) or professional qualifications as a scaffolder (issued by RYK, the regional professional committee), it is the equivalent of this special training.

What is prior notification?

The client must register some large construction work at the Swedish Work Environment Authority via a prior notification. This prior notification is a document with information about where and when a build will be carried out, who is responsible, as well as who is involved in the design (project managers) or execution (entrepreneurs) of a large construction site. This prior notification must be sent to the Swedish Work Environment Authority before work starts. If the client forgets to send the prior notification, they could have to pay a sanction fee.

Remember that the construction site is considered established when the preparatory work starts and has direct significance for the construction site (blasting, excavation, foundation-laying etcetera).

Which construction sites must be prior-notified to the Swedish Work Environment Authority?

All construction sites must be registered if the work will be on-going more than 30 working days and with more than 20 persons (employees) employed at the same time, or the total number of person days is over 500. By person-days is meant that X employees together work more than 500 working days; working days being approximately 8 hours.

How can the client make prior notification to the Swedish Work Environment Authority?

The simplest way is to fill in our prior notification form online and send it to us via email or post.

Here is the form for prior notification:

Prior notification of construction site form (in Swedish), pdf, opens in new window

Send the form to:

Arbetsmiljöverket
112 79 Stockholm

Email: arbetsmiljoverket@av.se

What should the client do if he/she doesn’t know all the information that is required on the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s form?

Fill in the information that you do know. A minimum is the address where the construction will be carried out, who the client is (including address, telephone number and contact person), contact person for the construction site with telephone number and approximate construction start date.

What should the client do if some information changes after the original prior notification was submitted?

It is sufficient to change the information in the prior notification at the construction site. No changes need to be sent in to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. 

What should one think about when demolishing or decontaminating buildings affected by mould?

In connection with demolition or decontamination of rooms in buildings affected by mould, dust with many mould spores and other parts of mould can be whipped up into the air. Mould spores are so small that one cannot always see them in the air, even when they are present in high concentrations. Because mould spores are light they can remain in the air for quite a long time. One must avoid breathing in mould spores because they can give rise to both acute and chronic lung problems.

The principle for demolition or decontamination of rooms in houses affected by mould should firstly be to limit the risk of exposure to mould dust through measures at the source. That entails using equipment and working methods that mean no dust is built up which contains mould dust. It is, however, probably necessary for those who carry out the decontamination to use a breathing apparatus with P2 filter or an air-fed breathing apparatus. In seriously contaminated air, the filter blocks quickly and one must therefore replace filters often. Battery-powered respiratory protective equipment in combination with a full mask can also be suitable equipment.

If one decontaminates or demolishes in a house where there are other people at the same time, it is even more important to make sure that the mould in the demolition dust does not reach rooms in the vicinity via ventilation or slots. It is naturally best if it can be arranged that all those in nearby premises are evacuated during decontamination or demolition work, if this work is extensive.

Who are designers and how do they affect our work environment?

Designers can be architects, engineers and others who work together during the design of a part of a building or facility. This means they can be involved in many different ways that can affect the work environment by:

  • constructing a frame, a facade, a roof
  • designing installations for electricity, heating and sanitation, ventilation, and control and regulation technology
  • designing the interiors of kitchens, bathrooms, industries, commerce
  • choosing building products and material.

The work of the designers creates prerequisites for both the building and the usage stage.

What responsibility does the designer have?

The designer has the responsibility of seeing that their structures, installations, or choice of product do not causing work environment risks in the building stage or the usage stage. Their responsibility is limited to that which they can influence within the framework of their work in a project.

Can you give some examples of how the designers can affect the work environment?

Designers should take work environment factors into consideration as early as possible during planning and designing. They should think about how work can be carried out and whether it is possible. It can be space or the choice of material for a certain job. The designer's work should start from the same points that the client should think about, namely:

  • how the design or placement of the building can influence work environment or how other choices, for example of building products, structures, frame systems, installations or fittings can have significance for a good work environment
  • that construction times are adapted so that different work can be carried out safely, have a reasonable timeframe to be completed, as well as being able to be coordinated
  • make sure that there are good possibilities to transport material, equipment or demolition waste for a good work environment
  • make sure that there are possibilities and space to establish changing facilities and offices for the activities needed by the construction project
  • investigate and take stock of whether there is health-endangering material that can affect the building project before demolition, rebuilding or renovation
  • make sure that the stability of a building or a facility will be safe through all the building stages during demolition, rebuilding or renovation
  • how a building or facility needs to be designed, keeping in mind what work will be carried out during the usage stage. This can mean adaptation of spaces for future maintenance (ventilation, chimney cleaning, electrical installations and so on) or for future activities with specific requirements (health care, social care, school, industry, office, commerce and more).

The possibility of a designer to influence the work environment during planning and design can vary. This depends not only on the construction project but also what type of contract a client chooses. A designer does not always have information about all the external factors affecting the construction, and this can make the working conditions and working methods difficult to predict. Sometimes extensive changes are made to the original design before the construction phase and this means that the work environment changes without the designer having the possibility of influence. It is therefore very important how Bas-P can work with co-ordinating and informing the designers about the actual construction project. Today we see also that more and more design is carried out in parallel with the construction phase, and this can make the work harder.

When it comes to the usage phase, there are several other factors. A common trend is that many building are constructed without exact knowledge about the activities that will take place there, or that it changes. With upgrading of older buildings/premises or with new tenants, there can sometimes be significant changes in the demands placed for a good work environment.

Examples during construction:

  • Large windows and facade slabs that must be assembled and transported can lack prerequisites for the practical work. It is common that there is limited space for the work or to be able to use technical aids for lifting and transport. Lack of space for carrying out different types of installations or maintenance.
  • Installations for electricity, heating and sanitation, and ventilation must often be done in spaces where one has not thought about how the practical work should be able to be carried out. Often there is not sufficient space for the work, or else unsuitable working positions are demanded, such as crawling, work over the shoulders etc. Planning is also lacking between the different types of installations, as well as that they must often be carried out at the same time so that they are in each others’ way.
  • Building products that need to be processed can be a health problem or can demand the use of personal protective equipment, which makes the work more demanding.
  • The design of the building, for example with curved facades and other protruding parts, can cause problems for scaffold construction, or to be able to use other working platforms.
  • Civil engineering work with bridges and tunnels can, in some construction stages, have poor space or lack the prerequisites to be able to build or use other stationary working platforms.
  • Elevators for transport of material and persons does not exist or that one uses the building’s existing elevator without special protective devices which should exist if the elevator does not have an inner door. Elevators should normally exist when there is a level difference that exceeds 10 metres at a construction site.
  • Roof work or other work at height cannot be done with fixed fall protection guard rails because the construction does not allow it, or is not adapted for the attachment of fall protection guard rails. There are also no prepared or possible attachment points for personal fall protection equipment.
  • During maintenance of the roof, internal ladders to the attic and out onto the roof are used. Attic and roof ladders are normally not suitable during construction work and must be replaced by external stairs and/or elevator.
  • Before demolition work, material inventory is not done and neither is general planning about how the demolition can be carried out regarding stability and how the spreading of dust can be limited.
  • There is often no planning for transport and other logistics of demolition waste.
  • Where certain chemicals are used in the work, or where certain material is processed, it can cause inconvenience to others. Painting, chiselling and laying asphalt are examples of work that often demands that other occupational groups are not in the vicinity.

Examples of usage phase

  • Lack of ventilation adapted for certain activities such as school premises, industries or restaurants.
  • Lack of daylight and the possibility of looking outside from offices and staff spaces where the staff is there permanently.
  • Spaces for operation/maintenance of a building/facility can lack areas for the carrying out of the work, and safe access routes.
  • A place where people work is not adapted for the noise and sound. Special planning is required by most of working spaces regarding acoustics and other noise-dampening measures.
  • Goods reception for many workplaces/activities is badly planned  regarding the possibility of transporting goods and a lift being present (where necessary).
  • Workplaces can lack staff areas, changing rooms, showers or toilets, which are required for the activity.

What does independence mean for a client's delegee?

Fundamental is that the client's delegee is independently responsible for the construction project – either for the planning and design, for the execution, or for both parts. By independence is meant that this occurs without the involvement of the client and that the client's delegee has the possibility of governing the project. Only then is it possible to sign an agreement of transfer of the client's work environment responsibility. Typical cases where the responsibility can be handed over is during turnkey projects (planning and design, as well as execution) and general construction (only execution).

Can a construction or project management company be a client's delegee and take over the work environment responsibility of a client?

Yes, a construction or project management company can be a client's delegee if it really is about an independent task. If a client signs a contract with a project management company that in its turn signs a contract with the entrepreneurs, the project management company can be the client's delegee, provided that it also has the economic responsibility. The client can, in such a case, make an agreement with the project management company that it takes over the client's work environment responsibility. A construction or project management company that functions more as an advisor to the client, on the other hand, cannot be the client's delegee.

Can a construction entrepreneur be appointed a client's delegee in a performance contract? 

Yes, a construction entrepreneur can be appointed a contract for just the execution of the work, provided that they are responsible for the entire execution, that is to say general construction. If the contract is divided, the client's responsibility cannot be moved over to a client's delegee.

Can the entrepreneur be a contractor and take over the client's work environment responsibility during a controlled turnkey contract?

Yes, the task can be considered independent if the client has given prerequisites for the build so that the entrepreneur knew about them when signing the contract, and has given the entrepreneur the freedom to plan and design from the stated prerequisites.

The client and the turnkey contractor can also make an agreement about the entrepreneur taking over the client's work environment responsibility. If the client in the meantime limits the prerequisites so that the entrepreneur does not have the possibility of carrying out the assignment in accordance with work environment legislation, the work environment responsibility cannot be handed over.

How do I know which industrial safety helmet I must use?

During the choice of safety helmet, it is important to analyse the risks in the current activity. It is the employer who must carry out a risk assessment and choose a helmet that protects against the risks.

What applies regarding staff space at a construction site?

It is the client who must see that there is space (see the provisions about building and civil engineering work AFS 1999:3 5b §). The building work environment coordinator for execution, Bas-U must see that staff space is established (Work Environment Act 3 chap 7 b and 7 g §§).

In the directions for use it should be clear how the helmet should be used. Industrial helmets according to EN 397 are suitable to use in, for example, building and civil engineering work, dock work and forest work.

The Work Environment Act

These staff spaces should be in place as soon as the construction work begins.

The spaces must, in general, follow the stipulations in the provision about the design of the workplace, AFS 2009:2. At the same time, each employer always still has responsibility for their own staff.

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Last updated 2016-09-13