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Work Environment Act (1977 as amended 2005)

The Work Environment Act

SFS 1977:1160, amended in SFS 1980:245, 1980:428, 1982:674, 1985:321, 1986:55, 1987:158, 1988:53, 1989:960, 1989:961, 1990:233, 1990:973, 1991:677, 1992:1135, 1994:579, 1994:2080, 1995:326, 1995:1239, 1997:520, 1999:841, 2000: 764, 2002:585, 2003:365, 2003:1099, 2004:453, 2005:396.

1. Purpose and Scope of the Act

Statutory text:

Section 1
The purpose of this Act is to prevent ill-health and accidents at work and generally to achieve a good working environment.

Section 2
Subject to the restrictions stated in Section 4, this Act applies to every activity in which employees are used for work on an employer’s account. With regard to work on board ship, this Act also applies when Swedish ships vessels are used for shipping traffic outside Swedish territorial waters.

With regard to ships and work on board ship, the provisions of this Act referring to the Work Environment Authority shall instead apply to the Swedish Maritime Administration. Reference made in this Act to an employer shall in the case of ships also apply to a shipowner, even if work on board ship is done by a person other than the person employed by the shipowner. For the purposes of this Act, a person who, in the shipowner’s stead, exercises decisive influence on the running of the ship is equated with a shipowner.

Chapters 3 and 5 contain provisions concerning duties in certain respects of persons other than employers and employees.

Provisions concerning the duties of the ship’s captain in connection with work on board ship are contained in the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364).

Section 2a
The provisions of Chap. 2, Sections 1 (1), 2 and 3 and Chap. 3, Section 4 (2) apply to foreign vessels in Swedish territorial waters. Otherwise the provisions of this Act apply to foreign vessels only to the extent prescribed by the Government.

Section 3
For the purposes of Chaps. 2-4 and 7-9, the following shall be equated with employees:

  1. persons undergoing education, 
  2. persons who, as inmates of an institution, perform work which they have been allotted. 
  3. persons performing service under the Total Defence Duty Act (1994:1809) and other persons performing statutory service or participating in voluntary training for activities within the total defence establishment.  

Pupils and inmates referred to in subsection one 1 and 2 of the foregoing shall also be equated with employees for the purposes of Chap. 5, Sections 1 and 3. Special stipulations concerning pupils are also made in Chap. 6, Sections 17 and 18.

For the purposes of subsections one and two, the stipulations of this Act concerning employers shall also apply to the person conducting the activity of which the work forms part.

Section 4
This Act does not apply to work done in the employer’s household by a person aged 18 or over.

Section 5
The Government or an authority appointed by the Government for the purpose may, in derogation of the stipulations of this Act, issue special Provisions for the total defence establishment.

Comments on Chapter 1:

Purpose of the Act
The Work Environment Act begins with a Section (Section 1) indicating its purpose. This refers to the main ideas underlying the Act, namely the prevention of ill-health and accidents at work and the general achievement of a good working environment. Thus the Act is concerned not only with prevention of accidents and ill-health at work but also with job content, the aim being for the working environment to yield a positive return in the form of job diversity, job satisfaction, social participation and personal development.

Scope
With few exceptions, the Work Environment Act applies to all work (Section 2). It makes no difference whether the work in question is factory work, outdoor work, agricultural work, office work or any other kind of work. Nor does it make any difference whether the work is done under private or public auspices. Above all, the Act applies when a worker is employed by an employer. Partly, though, it also applies to persons working on their common account and to self-employed persons and family undertakings (see Chap. 3, Section 5 and Chap. 5, Sections 2-3).

An employer may be a juristic or natural person. Juristic persons include, for example, limited companies, trading partnerships, associations, foundations, municipalities and county councils. If the employer is a juristic person, all workers are deemed to be employees. This also applies to managers and supervisory staff, such as the managing director of a limited company or the chief executive officer in a municipality. 

Persons employed in their own limited companies also count as employees. Share ownership – which, of course, can vary from one day to another – makes no difference. The State is also a juristic person and a legal entity in its own right, but it is always represented by one of the national authorities or utilities. On the other hand, State activity conducted on a company basis comes under the same rules as other limited companies.

The Work Environment Act does not apply to relations between a person ordering work and an independent contractor. In cases of this kind, the contractor is responsible for his employees’ working environment. He must ensure that the contract with the client affords adequate possibilities of a good working environment. There is no work environment liability for clients.

There are, however, situations in which a contractor can be deemed the employee of a client. There is a long-established practice of labour law whereby the employer concept is sometimes extended so as also to include persons engaging a “dependent contractor”. Contractors of this kind are then deemed to be employees. Certain forestry workers, for example, are in practice entirely dependent on the client. Hairdressers entirely dependent on a salon proprietor have also been deemed employees. Situations of this kind must always be assessed ad hoc.

In normal peacetime conditions, the Work Environment Act also applies in the armed forces and civil defence. The only exceptions concern the right of safety delegates to interrupt military exercises (Section 14 of the Work Environment Ordinance).

Work on board ship
In July 2003 the scope of this Act was enlarged so as also to include work on board ship, which had previously been excluded. Accordingly, persons working on board ship also have to comply with the Act’s provisions. Previously there only existed certain work environment provisions which were included in the Maritime Safety Act. Several provisions of the work Environment Act have been adapted to the fact of its now also applying at sea. The Act still distinguishes between on-shore work and work on board ship where supervision is concerned, in that supervision on board ship continues to be exercised by the Swedish Maritime Administration, with some assistance from the Work Environment Authority.

A new section, Section 2 a, was added to the Act simultaneously with its scope being made to include work on board ship. The new provision means that the basic rules for the work environment as stated in Chap. 2, Sections 1 (1), 2 and 3 also apply to foreign vessels in Swedish territorial waters. In addition, the Government has laid down, in Section 1 of the Work Environment Ordinance, that Chap. 2, Sections 4-6, 7 (1) first sentence and Chap. 3, Sections 6 and 7 of the Work Environment Act shall also apply to foreign vessels in Swedish territorial waters. Accordingly, foreign vessels in Swedish territorial waters and in Swedish ports must also have a satisfactory work environment as described in the second chapter of the Work Environment Act. They must also comply wit the rules of co-ordination laid down in the Act, e.g. with reference to the loading and unloading of cargo.

Pupils, conscripts etc.
All persons undergoing education are equated with employees (Section 3, point 1), which means that the Work Environment Act also applies to them. The rules concerning safety delegates and safety committees, as well as certain rules on age limits, working hours and registers in connection with medical examination do not apply, however. Instead there are special Provisions concerning pupils’ safety delegates in Chap. 6, Sections 17-18. 

For the most part, then, pupils in schools of all kinds come under the Work Environment Act from the very first grade. The Act applies to all practical and theoretical work done by the pupils. As regards certain leisure activities including elements of education, however, such as riding schools or music schools, the Act only applies to vocational education.

The same rules apply to students at university or college and in other vocational education. On the other hand, the Act does not apply to child supervision or to courses predominantly of a recreational character. As regards mixtures of child supervision and teaching, the Act applies to the educational part, subject to the exceptions already mentioned, but not to the supervision. If so, the Act applies here as well, subject to the exceptions already mentioned.

Persons required to work as the inmates of institutions are equated with employees in the same way as pupils (Section 3, point 2). This applies to all forms of obligatory work. Studies can also come under this head, but purely therapeutic activity or other voluntary activity does not.

The same applies to conscripts and other persons incurring total defence duty or civil defence duty (Section 3, point 3). There is a difference here, however, compared with pupils and inmates of institutions. The stipulations of Chap. 5, Sections 1 and 3 prohibiting certain dangerous jobs before the age of 18 apply to pupils and inmates of institutions but not to conscripts and the equivalent. It should be noted that the Act does not apply to accommodation conditions in barracks. The latter count as housing accommodation and, therefore, do not come within the scope of the Work Environment Act. But the Act does apply, for example, if the conscripts are ordered to clean the barracks.

Exceptions to the Act
The sole exceptions to the Work Environment Act concern ship work other than work on warships and work in the employer’s household (Section 4). The working environment in these connections is subject to special enactments, namely the Maritime Safety Act and the Domestic Employment Act. 

Thus, work done by personal assistants who are hired directly by a disabled or elderly person, for example, and not by the municipality, does not come under the Work Environment Act, even if the municipality or social insurance office helps to pay for it. What matters is not who pays but who, formally speaking, is the employer. The Act does apply in the employer’s home, however, if the worker is under 18 years old. Then again, it is common for temporary employees to be employed by the municipality, in which case the Act applies as usual. It also applies to assistants employed by a co-operative economic association or a foundation.

2. The State of the Working Environment

Statutory text:

Section 1
The working environment shall be satisfactory with regard to the nature of the work and social and technical progress in the community. In the case of work on board ship, the work environment shall also be satisfactory with regard to the requirements of maritime safety.

Working conditions shall be adapted to people’s differing physical and mental aptitudes.

The employee shall be given the opportunity of participating in the design of his own working situation and in processes of change and development affecting his own work.

Technology, work organisation and job content shall be designed in such a way that the employee is not subjected to physical or mental strains which can lead to ill-health or accidents. Forms of remuneration and the distribution of working hours shall also be taken into account in this connection. Closely controlled or restricted work shall be avoided or limited.

Efforts shall be made to ensure that work provides opportunities of variety, social contact and co-operation, as well as coherence between different tasks.

Furthermore, efforts shall be made to ensure that working conditions provide opportunities for personal and vocational development, as well as for self-determination and professional responsibility.

Section 2
Work shall be planned and arranged in such a way that it can be carried out in healthy and safe surroundings.

Section 3
Working premises shall be arranged and equipped in such a way as to provide a suitable working environment.

Section 4
Conditions of occupational hygiene, as regards air, noise, light, vibrations and suchlike shall be satisfactory.

Adequate safety precautions shall be taken to prevent injuries being caused by falls, collapses, fire, explosion, electric current or other comparable factors.

Section 5
Machinery, implements and other technical devices shall be designed, positioned and used in such a way as to afford adequate safeguards against ill-health and accidents.

Section 6
Substances liable to cause ill-health or accidents may only be used in conditions affording adequate security.

Section 7
Personal protective equipment shall be used when adequate security from ill-health or accidents cannot be achieved by other means. This equipment shall be provided by the employer.

In the case of work on board ship, the personal protective equipment shall be provided by the shipowner, unless some other party hiring the employee has assumed this responsibility.

Section 8
Spaces and facilities for personal hygiene, meals and rest, as well as for first aid in connection with accidents and illness, are to be provided to the extent appropriate to the nature of the work and the needs of the employees.

Personnel transport vehicles shall be suited to their purpose.

Further provisions concerning spaces, devices, measures of assistance and care in the event of accident or illness, and food and water for shipboard employees on board ship are contained in the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364). 

Section 9
Special Provisions concerning the design and construction of buildings are contained in the Planning and Building Act (1987:10) and in Provisions issued by authority of the same.

Section 10
Stipulations concerning working hours are contained in the Working Hours Act (1982:673) and in Provisions issued by authority of the same. 

Provisions concerning working hours and hours of rest in connection with work on board ship are contained in the Seafarers (Hours of Rest) Act (1998:958).

Provisions concerning working hours in connection with certain road transport work are contained in the Working Hours (Certain Road Transport Work) Act (2005:395).

Special stipulations concerning the working hours of minors are contained in Chap. 5, Section 5.

Comments on Chapter 2:

Basic stipulations
This Chapter lays down the general requirements for working conditions. The stipulations are quite generally worded, making extensive use of such indeterminate concepts as suitable, satisfactory, adequate and so on. This is due to the Work Environment Act being a “frame enactment”.

The Constitution Act lays down that basic stipulations on the rights and obligations of citizens must be decided by the Riksdag (parliament) through legislation. The Riksdag can then entrust the issuing of detailed stipulations to the Government or – as determined by the Government – a national authority.

In order for this to be possible, however, the Riksdag must indicate the frame within which the Government and the authority are permitted to issue Provisions. Where the working environment is concerned, an essential part of this frame is in fact contained in Chap. 2 of the Work Environment Act. Fairly general stipulations are sufficient to this end. The main thing is for the subject field and the basic requirements to be clearly indicated. Otherwise generous scope is left for technical and social developments and for the national authorities and the labour market parties to use their own judgement.

It is not the intention in the majority of cases for the wording of the Act to be directly applied to the practicalities of work environment management. The main purpose of the Act is to define the frames for the regulatory activities of the Government and the Work Environment Authority. Instead it is the more detailed wording of the Authority’s and its predecessor the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health’s Provisions that is to be used.

There are, however, situations and subject areas in which the Work Environment Authority (formerly the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health) has not issued any stipulations. In cases of this kind one is thrown back on the general stipulations of the Work Environment Act, which then have to be interpreted so as to give them a reasonable, practical implementation. A stipulation made by the Work Environment Authority in an individual case must also be clear and precise, so as to indicate clearly what is being stipulated. The general phrases of the Act, therefore, are not suitable for use in the making of stipulations. They can be referred to by way of support, but the stipulations themselves must be more distinctly formulated. 

This Chapter begins with an important declaration of principle, to the effect that the working environment must be viewed in relation to the nature of the work and to social and technical developments in the community (Section 1, subsection one). This stipulation is partly prompted by the self-evident fact that conditions governing the working environment vary, depending on the kind of work involved and where it is done. Clearly, a forestry worker, an office worker, a nurse and a bus driver can never have exactly the same working environment. True, it is all the time stipulated that the working environment must be satisfactory according to the circumstances, but the detailed requirements may still come to vary from one situation to another.

This Section also comes as a reminder that there are activities of importance to the community where the conditions governing the working environment are radically different from those in other fields. This can be instanced by such activities as fire-fighting, defence and policing. The stipulation implies that, in areas of this kind, a balance has to be struck between different interests before making demands on the working environment in a particular case. A balance of this kind can, for example, involve taking into account the stipulations made by the Riksdag in other laws. The general wording of the Work Environment Act and the Provisions of the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health and the Work Environment Authority normally provide scope for a balance to be struck in such way that both the Work Environment Act and other relevant enactments can be complied with simultaneously.

Adjustment to the employees
Within the basic framework, it is stipulated that work shall be adapted to people’s differing physical and mental aptitudes (Section 1, subsection two). This means that an all-round assessment is to be made of the working environment, also including the arrangement, organisation and content of work. The assessment must allow for the fact that people are different and can react differently to the working environments they are employed in. 

Workplaces, then, are to be designed with reference to what suits different people. Technical devices and chemical products must be produced and selected accordingly. Mental and social conditions at work are to be taken into account. Monotony, stress and isolation at work are to be avoided by adapting working conditions to human aptitudes. This again applies to such questions as well-being and satisfaction at work. The aim is for work to be found a meaningful, rewarding aspect of life. 

Opportunities for employees to work independently and to assume professional responsibility can have a very important bearing on their job satisfaction. Independence and responsibility at work facilitate the active participation of all employees in the promotion of work environment activities. Accordingly, the Act lays down that employees must have an opportunity of taking part in the design of their own working situation (Section 1, subsection three).

The employer must endeavour to arrange work so as to facilitate contact with fellow-employees and to establish coherence between different duties. Forms of remuneration and the arrangement of working hours must be taken into account. Closely controlled or restricted work entails special risks of unsuitable mental or physical strain and must therefore be avoided (Section 1, subsection four). Supervisory authorities, exercising powers under the Work Environment Act, can intervene, for example, against piecework systems or working schedules which are manifestly unsuitable from a work environment point of view.

Work environment considerations already at the planning stage
It is important that work environment requirements should already be taken into account at an early stage. Work must therefore be planned and arranged in such a way that it can be performed in healthy and safe surroundings (Section 2). Work environment viewpoints, therefore, must already be taken into account in the planning of working premises and equipment, technology and working methods. So too must the effects of the pace of work and working methods on independence and responsibility at work.

Different factors of the working environment
The basic stipulations concerning the nature of the working environment are followed by general statements of requirements concerning different factors of the working environment (Sections 3-6). Working premises must be suitable from a work environment viewpoint. Indoor air quality, noise, vibrations, lighting conditions and other such aspects of occupational hygiene shall be satisfactory. General rules are also stated concerning adequate safety precautions against accidents, the safety of technical devices and the safe use of substances capable of causing ill-health and accidents.

A special stipulation (Section 7) lays down the important principle that personal protective equipment shall be used only when adequate security from ill-health or accidents cannot be achieved by other means. Equipment of this kind shall, when needed, be provided by the employer. This also means that the employer shall pay for it. It is common, however, for collective agreements between the parties to provide that the employee is to pay part of the cost of the equipment, in return for the employer allowing it also to be used in leisure hours. An agreement of this kind is not contrary to the Work Environment Act.

Under Chap. 3, Section 4, when personal protective equipment is needed, the employees are duty bound to use it. Chap. 3, Section 2 also implies that the employer must ensure that the employees use the personal protective equipment which is needed. This is not to say that the employer must continuously supervise every employee to make sure that he or she does not remove helmet or protective gloves. On the other hand, the employer must have a system for systematically verifying that the equipment is used and for intervening if it is not being used. 

Personnel facilities etc.
Chap. 2, Section 8 contains stipulations concerning personnel facilities and first aid in the event of accidents or illness. This stipulation is worded in such a way that it will only apply if necessitated by the nature of the work and the needs of the employees. It is not to be applied, therefore, to groups which are not employees and to whom only relevant parts of the Act are applicable (cf. Chap. 3, Section 5).

Further provisions relating to accidents or illness and to food and water for shipboard employees on board ship are contained in the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364). 

Occupational exposure limit values
Occupational exposure limit values are a useful aid to practical work environment policy. Limits can be defined, for example, for air pollutants. It is then determined that the air inhaled by a worker in the course of work may have not more than a certain average content of a substance during a working day or a shorter length of time. 

Limit values can also be specified for temperature, radiation, noise, vibrations and so on. For noise and vibrations there also exist “input values” to which stipulations are referenced concerning measures to be taken.

To establish the limit value system on a statutory footing, Section 18 of the Work Environment Ordinance lays down that limit values for the planning and inspection of the working environment can be defined by the Work Environment Authority.

The purpose of limit values is for the same level of stipulations to apply nationwide. An employer complying with the input or limit values stated, therefore, must normally be able to assume that no further protective measures are needed. In the event of serious health problems occurring, however, it is possible for the supervisory authority to stipulate remedial measures. Sometimes there may also be special stipulations which have to be complied with, regardless of compliance with input and limit values.

3. General Obligations

Statutory text:

Section 1
The stipulations of this Chapter shall be applied with due regard for the demands made in Chap. 2 concerning the nature of the working environment.

Section 1 a
Employer and employee shall co-operate to establish a good working environment.

Section 2
The employer shall take all the precautions necessary to prevent the employee from being exposed to health hazards or accident risks. One basic principle in this connection shall be for everything capable of leading to ill-health or accidents to be altered or replaced in such a way that the risk of ill-health or accidents is eliminated.

The employer shall consider the special risk of ill-health and accidents which can be entailed by an employee working alone.

Facilities, as well as machinery, implements, safety equipment and other technical devices, shall be kept in a good state of repair.

Section 2 a
The employer shall systematically plan, direct and control activities in a manner which leads to the working environment meeting the requirements for a good work environment. He shall investigate work injuries, continuously investigate the hazards of the activity and take the measures thus prompted. Measures which cannot be taken immediately shall be timetabled.

To the extent which the activity requires, the employer shall document the working environment and measures to improve the same. Action plans shall be drawn up in this connection. 

Furthermore, the employer shall ensure that there is, in his activity, a suitably organised scheme of job adaptation and rehabilitation for the discharge of the duties incumbent on him under this Act and under Chap. 22 of the National Insurance Act (1962:381).

Section 2 b
The employer shall be responsible for the availability of the occupational health services which the working conditions require.

By “occupational health services ” is meant an independent expert resource in the domains of the working environment and rehabilitation. Occupational health services shall in particular work for the prevention and elimination of health risks at workplaces, and shall have the competence to identify and describe connections between the working environment, organisation, productivity and health.

Section 3
The employer shall ensure that the employee acquires a sound knowledge of the conditions in which work is conducted and that he is informed of the hazards which the work may entail. The employer shall make sure that the employee has received the training necessary and that he knows what measures shall be taken for the avoidance of risks in the work. The employer shall see to it that only employees who have received adequate instructions gain access to areas where there is a palpable risk of ill-health or accidents. 

The employer shall make allowance for the employee’s special aptitudes for the work by modifying working conditions or taking other appropriate measures. In the planning and arrangement of work, due regard shall be paid to the fact that individual persons have differing aptitudes for the tasks involved.

Section 4
The employee shall assist in work relating to the working environment and shall take part in the implementation of the measures needed in order to achieve a good working environment. He shall comply with Provisions issued and use the safety devices and exercise such other precautions as are needed for the prevention of ill-health and accidents.

An employee finding that work entails an immediate and serious danger to life or health shall immediately notify the employer or a safety delegate. The employee cannot be held liable for any damage resulting from his non-performance of work pending instructions regarding its resumption.

Section 5
Applicable parts of this Act and Provisions issued by authority of the same shall be valid for work done by the employer himself. The same shall apply when two or more persons engage jointly in commercial activity on their own account and without any employees being hired, but not if the activities are conducted solely by members of one and the same family.

Persons carrying on commercial activities without employees, singly or together with members of their families, are obliged to comply with this Act and with Provisions by authority of the same concerning technical devices and substances capable of causing ill-health or accidents, and also concerning worksites common to several enterprises (“common worksites”).

It follows from Chap. 4, Section 10 that Provisions may also be issued concerning obligations in other respects.

Section 6
Two or more persons simultaneously engaged in activities at a common worksite shall consult one another and co-operate with a view to achieving satisfactory safety conditions.

Each of them shall also ensure that he does not, through his activity or his devices at the common worksite, expose any person working there to the risk of ill-health or accident.

Section 7
The person commissioning construction or heavy engineering work is responsible for the co-ordination of measures for the prevention of ill-health and accidents at a common worksite for the activity. If a permanent site is a worksite common to several enterprises, similar responsibility devolves on the person controlling the worksite. If a ship is a common worksite for two or more activities, the shipowner is responsible for the co-ordination of measures for the prevention of ill-health and accidents. If, however, a ship has been admitted to a shipyard in Sweden, responsibility devolves instead on the party responsible for the operation of the shipyard. Responsibility for the co-ordination of safety precautions occasioned by a ship loading or discharging cargo in a Swedish port devolves on the employer responsible for the work.

Co-ordinating responsibility may by agreement be transferred to one of the persons conducting work at the worksite or, in the case of loading and discharge of cargo in a Swedish port, on the port or the shipowner.

Persons conducting work in common worksites other than those referred to in subsection one may agree that one of their number is to be responsible for co-ordination.

The person responsible under this Section shall ensure that

  1. the work of preventing risks of ill-health or accidents is co-ordinated at the common worksite, 
  2. work is timetabled in the manner necessary in order to avert risks of ill-health and accidents due to different activities being in progress at the worksite, 
  3. general safety devices are established and maintained and general safety regulations for the worksite issued,
  4. responsibility for the special safety devices which may be needed for a particular job or jobs is made clear, and
  5.  personnel facilities and sanitary devices are established at the worksite to the extent necessary.  

Other employers and the persons working at the common worksite shall comply with the directions issued by the person responsible for co-ordination.

Section 8
Any person manufacturing, importing, delivering or providing a machine, implement, protective equipment or other technical device shall ensure that the device affords adequate security against ill-health and accidents when it is placed on the market, delivered to be used or displayed for sale.

A technical device not meeting the requirements of subsection one may be shown at trade fairs, exhibitions or suchlike if it is made clear that the requirements are not satisfied and that the device may not be placed on the market or delivered to be used until it meets the requirements. If the device is set in operation, adequate safety precautions shall be taken for the prevention of accidents.

Particulars concerning the device, which are material to the prevention of ill-health and accidents (“product information”), shall be supplied when it is delivered, in the form of distinct labelling or by some other means. Information of particular importance for the working environment shall be supplied when the device is marketed.

Section 9
Any person manufacturing, importing or delivering a substance capable of causing ill-health or accidents shall take the measures necessary in order to prevent or counteract any safety hazards entailed by the substance when used as intended.

The stipulations of Section 8 (3), concerning product information and information in connection with marketing shall also apply with regard to substances capable of causing ill-health or accidents.

Section 10
Any person delivering or making available a packaged product shall ensure that the packaging does not entail any risk of ill-health or accidents.

Section 11
Any person installing a technical device shall ensure that the necessary safety devices are erected and that all other necessary safety precautions are taken.

Section 12
The person controlling a worksite shall ensure the existence at the worksite of permanent devices of such kind that a person working there without being an employee in relation to him is not exposed to the risk of ill-health or accident. He shall also ensure that other devices existing at the worksite can be used without any such risk.

A person hiring rented labour to work in his activity shall take the safety measures which are needed in that work.

Section 13
In Chap. 7, Section 8, provision is made concerning the safety liability in certain cases of persons who provide premises, land or a space below ground for work or as personnel facilities.

Section 14
The person commissioning construction or heavy engineering work shall, in the course of planning, ensure that work environment considerations, referring both to the construction phase and future use, are taken into account and that different parts of planning are co-ordinated. The manufacturer of prefabricated buildings or installations shall similarly ensure that work environment considerations are taken into account in the course of planning.

Architects, constructors and others involved in the planning shall also ensure, within the scope of their assignments, that work environment viewpoints are taken into account.

Comments on Chapter 3:

Responsibility for the working environment
This Chapter indicates which parties are responsible for the working environment. For each and every one of them, the extent of responsibility is defined. This varies from one responsible party to another. But the Act does not distribute responsibility between individual physical persons. Instead it places responsibility on persons acting in certain capacities within the working environment. “Players” of this kind include, for example, employers, suppliers, developers and persons in control of a worksite.

In the majority of cases, the players are companies or public authorities, for example, not natural persons. To discharge their responsibility they normally have to allocate within their organisation the tasks which this requires. If, on the other hand, the question of penal liability arises, this is apportioned after the event by the courts. A question of this kind may arise, for example, if an accident is believed to have been caused by an omission of some kind or if a stipulation with a penal sanction has not been complied with. In such cases the courts often consult the internal division of labour, but if that division has been wrongly affected they can disregard it. Wrongful allocation occurs, for example, if tasks are allocated unaccompanied by the powers and resources that are needed, or again if a task is given to someone who is not competent to perform it or if sufficient information and instruction are not provided.

This Chapter begins with a reference to Chap. 2. The purpose of this cross-reference is to highlight the balancing of interests which has to be effected in certain cases (see the comments on Chap. 2). It also points to the allowance which, for implementing purposes, may have to be made for the nature of the work and social and technical progress in the community (Chapter 2, Section 1, subsection one). To underline the importance of mutual responsibility, the Chapter goes on to provide that it is the duty of employer and employee to co-operate in the establishment of a good working environment (Chap. 3, Section 1 a).

The employer mainly responsible
The main responsibility for the working environment devolves on the employer. He must take all measures needed to prevent the exposure of employees to the risk of ill-health or accidents at work (Section 2, subsection one). Special reference is made to the hazards of solitary work (Section 2, subsection two). One of the basic principles of the employer’s preventive activity must be for everything dangerous to be altered or replaced so as to eliminate the risk. This also implies that, if the risk cannot be fully eliminated, the employer must instead take steps to reduce it.

The employer is also responsible for the existence of the occupational health services which working conditions require (Section 2 b). This responsibility includes all worksites where, under the stipulations on Systematic Workplace Management and on Job Adaptation and Rehabilitation, the provision of occupational health services can be deemed necessary. This stipulation may come into play if the right competence is not available within the employer’s own operation, or if the working environment and duties are associated with obvious risks to and strains on the employees. A definition of what is meant by “occupational health services” will also be found in Section 2b, together with basic requirements for the operation of occupational health services.

In the statutory text, demands on the employer are worded in direct terms and without exception. For implementation purposes, however, the reference in Chap. 3, Section 1 must be taken into account. This means that allowance must be made for the stipulations of Chap. 2, Section 1 concerning the nature of the work and social and technical progress. In other words, a general assessment must always be made concerning which demands, generally speaking, appear reasonable for the work in question. A balance may also need to be struck with other general values or needs. In practice, therefore, the more exact nature of the employer’s duties may vary according to the situation.

Requirements concerning the design of the workplace, for example, can be completely different for office work, factory work or construction work. Requirements concerning protection from accidents can differ between a fireman and an engineering worker. Then again, requirements may change with the passing of time, if social or technical progress or new research findings make this necessary.

Section 1 a requires employers and employees to co-operate on the measures which need to be taken in order to satisfy the requirements of a good working environment. Co-operation of this kind usually takes place between supervisory staff and personnel within the context of day-to-day work, but it can also take place within the safety committee and between management and safety delegates.

The travaux préparatoires deal with the question as to whether the economic situation of the individual undertaking or the individual employer can be allowed to influence the standard of the working environment. The answer to that question is No. It is stated that requirements concerning the working environment may not be relaxed because the individual employer is in financial straits. The basic idea is that the cost of the working environment is part of the cost of production and as such must always be paid.

On the other hand, there is always the need for a balanced assessment of what the Work Environment Act requires. Measures to improve the working environment must not be unreasonable in relation to the results which can be achieved. The cost of a work environment measure must always be balanced against the improvement which can be achieved and an assessment must be made as to whether the measure contemplated is reasonable. This can, for example, mean refraining from a very expensive measure which only confers a marginal improvement of the working environment. It can also mean that stricter stipulations can be made in connection with a start-up than as regards pre-existing activities.

When the supervisory authorities make stipulations, they may sometimes also need to make special allowances when setting a time limit for the implementation of measures. Factors to be considered may, for example, be the local employment situation, the possibility of older workers changing jobs and so on. Considerations of this kind can sometimes result in an employer being allowed more time than otherwise to improve the working environment. This, however, is conditional on the health of the employees not being jeopardised. On the other hand, as has already been mentioned, no allowance can be made in assessments of this kind for the individual undertaking’s financial situation. This also means that the employer cannot get out of taking the remedial measures: he can only be allowed extra time for doing so.

The employer’s systematic management of the working environment
A special Section enlarges on the employer’s duty of systematically planning, directing and controlling activities (Section 2 a). 

The basic idea of this stipulation is that the employer must ensure that the activities are in every way conducted so that he can honour his obligations under the Work Environment Act. It is the duty of the employer to chart risks and investigate ill-health and accidents, and also to take the measures which the charting of risks gives cause for.

The employer must therefore conduct a continuous process of systematic work environment management, so as to ensure that ill-health and accidents are prevented and the working environment made satisfactory. This work must be integrated with the rest of the operation. Section 2 a is another way of saying that the employer must assume direct responsibility for work environment activities. This also includes ensuring that systematic work environment management is adequately conducted.

The same Section also requires the working environment to be documented to the extent which activities demand and action plans to be drawn up. The documentation serves to facilitate the employer’s systematic management of the working environment and the participation of employees and safety delegates in that control.

The employer is also required to organise a scheme of job adaptation and rehabilitation. These activities shall help sicklisted employees to return to work quickly and shall contribute towards effective job adaptation and rehabilitation for the disabled and long-term sicklisted.

Skills and the adaptation of work
This Chapter also goes into greater detail concerning the employer’s duties with regard to instruction and other forms of information (Section 3, subsection one). It is particularly emphasised that the employees shall be informed of the hazards of their work. If the employees at the worksite are liable to find themselves in places where there is a palpable risk of ill-health or accidents, the employer shall see to it that only adequately instructed employees gain access there. The instructions thus given must be adapted to each individual employees needs and existing skills.

It is further laid down that the employer is duty bound to make allowance for the employee’s special aptitudes for the work, e.g. various functional impairments, age and vocational experience (Section 3, subsection two). This is to be done adapting working conditions or by other appropriate means. Important examples of adaptation measures are the modification of working processes, reconstruction of equipment and provision of special technical aids. Other possible adaptation measures are special instruction, information or work supervision, special working hours or a different organisation of work.

It is also laid down that work must be planned and arranged with due regard for people’s differing aptitudes for it. The intention here is for no unnecessary obstacles to be put in the way of employing people with occupational handicaps of different kinds. 

Allowance must also be made to natural variation between individuals regarding such things as body size or visual capacity.

Liability to third parties
The employer’s responsibilities under Sections 2, 2 a and 3 only apply to his own employees, and so it is not the employer’s duty to take steps to improve the working environment for personnel of other undertakings. Thus he is not responsible, for example, for personnel of other companies with facilities close by or the personnel of contractors he engages. It follows, however, from other stipulations in this Chapter, such as Sections 6 and 12, that there is a certain limited responsibility for personnel of such undertakings. At a common worksite, for example, it is the duty of the party responsible for co-ordination to ensure that safety precautions at the worksite are co-ordinated (Section 7). Co-ordinating responsibility, however, does not replace the responsibility of the different employers for their employees.

Nor do the stipulations of this Chapter imply any demand for measures to protect the general public, e.g. customers, patients, passers-by on foot or children at play. Requirements of this kind may possibly be included in other legislation, but they are outside the scope of the Work Environment Act.

Working environment also the employees’ responsibility
Responsibility for the working environment is also imposed on employees. They have to take part in the promotion of a good working environment and in the measures which the achievement of such an environment demands. They must comply with current Provisions issued and make use of safety devices. They must also observe the other precautions necessary for the avoidance of ill-health and accidents (Section 4, subsection one). The employees’ responsibility, then, is less extensive than the employer’s.

This stipulation means that in particular cases the supervisory authority can address Provisions, injunctions and prohibitions to employees. It is normally to be expected, though, that this will only happen simultaneously with corresponding requirements being addressed to the employer.

The Act lays down that, in situations of acute danger, employees must notify the employer or safety delegate at once. The employee is expressly exempted from liability for damage which can occur if he refrains from work pending instructions on its continuation (Section 4, subsection two).

Self-employed persons
In principle, the Work Environment Act also applies to work done by entrepreneurs personally. It is important that an employer, through his work, should not constitute a risk to the employees working in close proximity to him. He must also set a good example to the employees. Accordingly, Section 5 (1) requires employers to comply with applicable parts of the Work Environment Act and the Provisions issued by the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health and the Work Environment Authority. 

The expression “ applicable parts” shows that there is no need to comply with the Work Environment Act in every respect. Provisions not needing to be complied with include, for example, that of Chap. 2, Section 1, stipulating that employees be allowed to take part in the design of work.

The same applies to the stipulations of Chap. 3, Section 3 concerning instructions and job adaptation. This passage again states that its obligations only apply in relation to the employees. The employer, then, need not provide personnel facilities or instructions for himself. On the other hand a farmer, for example, may not have an open tractor without a roll-over protection structure (ROPS) which he drives himself while the tractor driven by the employees has a cab.

Commercial activity on common account
The same stipulations apply to persons jointly carrying on commercial activity with no employees but on their common account (Section 5, subsection one). Activity is usually deemed commercial if it is permanent, independent, of some regularity and undertaken for profit. Persons in this position are also obliged to comply with relevant parts of the Work Environment Act. Trading partnerships and co-operative economic associations are two possible examples of this kind. “Personnel co-operatives” are often run as co-operative economic associations, in which case the same applies to them. 

One-man and family undertakings
Special rules apply to entrepreneurs carrying on business single-handed or only together with members of the immediate family and with no employees. They have to comply with Provisions about machinery and other technical devices and about dangerous substances, e.g. chemical products (Section 5, subsection two). In case law, this stipulation has been taken to refer to Provisions concerning protection against risks entailed by technical devices and risks entailed by dangerous substances.

One-man and family entrepreneurs, then, must comply with stipulations aimed at averting such risks. On the other hand they need not comply with stipulations aimed at protecting people from risks entailed, for example, by falls and collapsing objects, violence and menaces or harmful work postures and working movements, so long as they are not engaging in construction and heavy engineering work. If they are thus engaged, one-man and family undertakings are in principle bound to comply fully with the Work Environment Act and provisions issued pursuant to it.

Non-profit activities
An activity, even if not undertaken for profit, can be considered commercial (professional) if it is of a certain duration and is of an economic nature. Thus the fact of the activity being intended to further an idealistic or charitable purpose does not prevent it from being regarded as business activity. Very often, however, the boundary between work in the sense of the Work Environment Act and voluntary work (non-profit activity) can be hard to define. Lunch restaurants, ice rinks and historic railways operated by voluntary associations could be considered professional activity if they are of a certain duration and extent and are financed with charges paid by the general public. On the other hand, the use of mast cranes by sailing clubs and the temporary erection or construction of communal maypoles, dance floors, church facilities or suchlike by members of an association fall outside the scope of the Work Environment Act. The Act does apply, however, if voluntary, non-profit associations have employees. 

Common worksite
The employer’s responsibility is insufficient in workplaces where activities are carried on by several employers or other undertakings simultaneously. At common worksites of this kind, special risks can occur due to the effects of the different activities on each other. At the same time, the employees may be unaware of the risk emanating from other activities than their own. Section 6 therefore requires those carrying on activities at a common worksite to co-operate with a view to achieving safe working conditions. In addition, they have to ensure that their activities and equipment do not endanger other employers’ personnel working there. This can be the situation, for example, on a construction site or if a cleaning company or transport company enters a factory or an office in order to work there. 

A common worksite as referred to in Section 6 comes into being as soon as more than one undertaking or employer at a time carries on activities which are not physically segregated. The fact of employers having facilities close together need not, however, in itself mean a common worksite since, in the normal run of things, the two are still quite separate.

This can be instanced with the case of two undertakings having separate premises in the same building. One of them is engaged in office activity while the other manufactures plastic objects and discharges atmospheric pollution. Here there is no common worksite. Under the Work Environment Act, therefore, the plastic company is obliged to take measures only if the pollution poses a risk to its own employees, which presumably it does not if it is ventilated on to the premises of the neighbouring firm. The employer in the office firm, on the other hand, has to protect his personnel. He must therefore prevent the pollution entering the office premises, or else protect the personnel in some other way. He can then make demands on the plastic company or the landlord with reference, for example, to real property, tenancy or public health legislation. These demands, however, are nothing with which the supervisory authorities for the working environment have to concern themselves. If problems cannot be solved in any other way, the employer may ultimately be forced to transfer his operation to other premises in order to avoid injury to his personnel.

If, however, the operations are more intertwined – for example, if firms share the same premises or devices – the place may come to be regarded as a common worksite. This may also be the case, for example, if there are specially made trucks which move in and out of both firms’ premises or production machinery which they both make use of. Another situation of the same kind occurs if the premises are not segregated, as they are not, for example, in certain department stores. But a common worksite does not come into existence merely because the entire building has a single air conditioning system, a single loading bay or common lifts in the stairwell: there has to be some clearer form of integration between the undertakings.

When alterations are being made to an existing worksite, it can sometimes be hard to tell whether this is a common worksite or two worksites. The answer will depend on how carefully the construction activity is segregated from the pre-existing activity. If it is completely segregated, there may be a common worksite for the building activity and another worksite for the pre-existing activity. More commonly, though, the worksites are not segregated and the building activities continue in the midst of the pre-existing activity. If so, the whole place is one common worksite.

At most common worksites, there is a special co-ordinating responsibility, as well as employer’s responsibility. On construction sites, this responsibility devolves primarily on the developer. At permanent worksites, the responsibility devolves on the business or suchlike controlling the permanent worksite. In the case of a ship which is a common worksite, the shipowner is responsible for co-ordination, and when a ship is laid up in a shipyard co-ordinating responsibility devolves on the shipyard proprietor. In all cases responsibility can be transferred to some other company or employer carrying on activities at the common worksite (Section 7). Where loading and discharge of a ship’s cargo are concerned, however, responsibility for co-ordination is only transferable to the port or the shipowner. On construction sites, transfer of this kind is the normal practice, usually to the building contractor or else to whichever party is otherwise the main contractor. It is also possible for the Work Environment Authority to decide, in a special order, where this responsibility is to be located (Chap. 7, Section 6).

The party with co-ordinating responsibility is responsible for all co-ordination at the common worksite. This responsibility, accordingly, also includes co-ordination between construction companies carrying out certain alterations and their subcontractors and between the company controlling the worksite and its subcontractors in other parts of the activity. It is important to remember that only the entire co-ordinating responsibility for the entire common worksite can be transferred. Consequently, if only part of the responsibility, e.g. responsibility in the construction operation alone, is transferred, that transfer is null and void. Responsibility will then remain with the party on whom, under Section 7, it primarily devolves.

No company is automatically responsible for co-ordination at mobile worksites outside the construction industry, e.g. in forestry. Here again, however, an agreement can be reached, making one of the undertakings or employers at the worksite responsible for co-ordination. The location of this responsibility can also be determined by the Work Environment Authority (Chap. 7, Section 6).

Section 7 indicates the obligations of the company or equivalent responsible for co-ordination (Section 7, subsection three). Generally speaking, co-ordinating responsibility covers risks directly entailed by the fact of several undertakings or the equivalent working simultaneously at one worksite.

On the other hand, this responsibility does not mean that the undertaking generally responsible for co-ordination acquires general responsibility for all work environment questions at the worksite. Risks only affecting the personnel of one undertaking remain entirely a matter between that undertaking and its employees.

It is the duty of other companies and persons working at the common worksite to comply with the directions issued by the company responsible for co-ordination (Section 7, subsection four). It is important to remember that co-ordinating responsibility always rests with the employer/company and never on an individual employee in the operation. An employee is usually appointed to attend to the practicalities of co-ordination issues, but actual responsibility for co-ordination, just like responsibility for the work environment, always remains with the employer.

Demands on producers and suppliers
The Act lays down that any person manufacturing, importing, selling or renting out a machine or other technical equipment must ensure that it affords adequate security against ill-health and accidents. This applies both when it is placed on the market or delivered, and when it is displayed for sale (Section 8). This stipulation applies to all devices which can be used commercially. On the other hand it has not been deemed to apply to single specimens which are clearly not destined for commercial use, e.g. machinery in apartment building laundries or in vehicle repair shops where the personnel are allowed to work on their own cars after working hours.

The stipulations in Section 8 also apply to the delivery of used machinery. Accordingly, this must also be safe when resold or rented out. In addition, a special duty of protection devolves on the person installing technical devices (Section 11). This applies to the installation of both new and used devices.

An unguarded device may be displayed at trade fairs, exhibitions or suchlike if it is made clear that the device does not meet the current safety requirements. It must also be made clear that the device is not to be sold or used until it meets the requirements. In other respects too, a supplier shall ensure that the product information needed from a work environment point of view accompanies the delivery. This may, for example, concern labelling, instructions for use and warning signs (Section 8).

The same demands concerning product information are applied to a party manufacturing, importing or providing a dangerous substance. It is further stipulated that this party shall take the measures which are necessary in order to prevent or counteract safety hazards being entailed by the substance when used as intended (Section 9). Dangerous substances include all chemical substances or products which, by reason of their properties and intended use, can be hazardous to health or can entail accident risks at work.

Intervention against dangerous products
If a product entails risks from a work environment viewpoint, Chap. 7, Section 11 empowers the Work Environment Authority to intervene against suppliers and vendors of the product. In such cases the Authority can order them to issue warnings, e.g. by advertisement. The Authority can also require them to recall the product. Orders of this kind are normally issued on pain of a specified fine.

The supervisory authority may also, exercising powers conferred by Chap. 7, Section 7, prohibit the delivery of machinery and other technical devices when safety is not properly provided for. If, then, individual dangerous machines of this kind are sold, for example, by suppliers or scrap dealers or at trade fairs, the Work Environment Authority can prohibit further sales unless the machines are repaired. 

Chap. 3, Section 10 enjoins special liability for suppliers with regard to potentially hazardous packagings. This can apply, for example, to problems with plastic-wrapped bundles of timber, which can be slippery, or other packagings which are sharp or pointed, difficult to lift manually or easily breakable.

Safety liability of the person controlling a worksite
It is becoming increasingly common for employees to work in places where working conditions are controlled by an employer other than their own. This happens, for example, in distribution and other transport operations, in cleaning and other short-term contracting work, in visits for control or inspection and when several activities are undertaken on shared premises. In cases of this kind, it is important that the person in actual control of the worksite should also have a clear responsibility towards outside workers entering it.

Responsibility of this kind is provided for in Chap. 3, Section 12, subsection one. For obvious reasons, however, this is confined to permanent devices at the worksite, such as loading bays, lifting devices, transport route installations and specially provided transport equipment. This stipulation means that the Work Environment Authority can insist on improvements by issuing the undertaking carrying on activity at the worksite with injunctions. This applies even if the undertaking’s own employees are not exposed to the risk.

These stipulations, however, may only refer to devices controlled by the undertaking. Deficiencies may often also affect access routes, stairs, boiler rooms or suchlike spaces which are not included in any particular worksite. Here the employer of the visiting personnel can instead be forbidden to continue the activity. The property owner can also be forbidden to supply the rented premises for work so long as the deficiencies persist.

Safety responsibilities of those renting labour
Chap. 3, Section 12 (2) imposes responsibility on a person renting labour. This responsibility applies when an employer, in return for payment, places labour at a client’s disposal for work belonging to the client’s activity. The workers are controlled and directly supervised by the client. The person hiring out the labour has the responsibility of an employer, but this is not enough because the employer cannot easily influence working conditions. It is also his duty to find out what the working environment is like at the place to which he sends his employees. In practice, though, this can be hard to accomplish properly.

The person hiring the labour has therefore been made to incur, as regards work in his activities, a responsibility corresponding on the whole to the employer’s. Thus he shall take the same safety precautions as he would have taken for employees. This responsibility applies regardless of whether the rental arrangement is for a longer or shorter period. On the other hand, this responsibility does not include long-term measures such as rehabilitation. These are the sole responsibility of the employer.

Safety responsibility for certain suppliers
As stated earlier, the prime responsibility for employees devolves on their employer. This is supplemented by a responsibility incurred by persons letting premises, land or spaces below ground to be used for work or as personnel facilities (Section 13). That responsibility, however, only means that a prohibition can be issued against continued letting for the same kind of activity as long as the deficiencies have not been rectified. In case law, a prohibition of this kind means an ultimate obligation on the landlord’s part to cancel a current tenancy agreement in such a way that the tenancy will expire on the day when the prohibition comes into force unless the measures stipulated have been taken by then.

This possibility is above all intended for use in situations where the landlord impedes the tenant from making the necessary improvements to the working environment. But it can also be used in the very common instance of landlord and tenant disagreeing which of them is to carry out or pay for the measures.

Normally the supervisory authorities will only issue a letting prohibition simultaneously with demands also being made on the employer. In this way they indicate that they are not taking any stand in the question of which of these two parties shall carry out the measures or pay for them.
As an ultimate resort, the landlord and tenant can take the question of payment to court if they are unable to agree between themselves. 

Certain requirements, however, can be addressed directly to a property owner or other provider. This applies in cases where it is suspected that there are risks associated with the premises or suchlike provided and these suspicions need to be investigated. The supervisory authority can then order the landlord to carry out an investigation of safety conditions in the place (Chap. 7, Section 8, subsection two).

Safety liability of developers, architects, technical designers etc.
Construction and heavy engineering are hazardous activities and many construction workers are affected by ill-health or accidents in the course of their work. The deficiencies of the working environment are often due to deficiencies of planning, and to the persons who planned the building and prepared the drawings and specifications not having taken into account the working environment of the construction workers. Similarly, the people who are to work in a finished building may be exposed to risks as a result of no thought having been given to their working environment at the planning stage.

A special duty of ensuring that work environment considerations are taken into account during the planning process has therefore been imposed on developers (Section 14). The same duty is imposed on manufacturers of prefabricated buildings or installations. Architects, technical designers and other consultants taking part in the planning process must also see to it, within the scope of their assignments, that work environment aspects are taken into consideration (Section 14, subsection two). This responsibility focuses on safety both during the future use of the building and in the course of its construction. It also includes safety in connection with property management, service, the placement of installations and suchlike foreseeable during the lifetime of the building.

4. Statutory Powers

Statutory text:

Section 1
The Government or, by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may, with regard to technical devices or substances capable of causing ill-health or accidents, make provision concerning

  1. conditions of manufacture, use and labelling or other product information, 
  2. testing or inspection to ensure that prescribed requirements or conditions are satisfied. 

Section 2
If necessary for the prevention of ill-health or accidents at work the Government or, by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may prescribe that a permit, approval or some other certificate of compliance with current requirements is necessary 

  1. before work processes, working methods or facilities may be used, 
  2. before technical devices or substances capable of causing ill-health or accidents may be placed on the market, used or delivered to be used.  

Section 3
The Government or, by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may prescribe 

  1. the keeping at worksites of a list of technical devices of certain kinds or certain substances occurring there which are capable of causing ill-health or accidents, 
  2. the keeping by employers of a register of employees subjected to exposure which can lead to ill-health, including particulars of the work and exposure, and the transmission by employers to physicians of particulars from the register.  

Provisions concerning the investigation of safety conditions in a certain type of activity and concerning the installation of technical devices may be issued in the same manner.

An employee shall be given the opportunity, when requesting the same, to inspect entries in a register as referred to in subsection one 2. and referring to him or her personally.

Section 4
If special considerations of safety so demand, the Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may prohibit the use of work processes, working methods or technical devices or substances capable of causing ill-health or accidents.

Section 5
If a particular type of work entails a risk of ill-health or accident, the Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may prescribe an obligation to arrange for the medical examination or vaccination or other preventive treatment against infection of the persons employed or about to be employed in the work concerned. A prohibition may also be issued against the use in such work of any person whom medical examination has shown to be suffering from a disease or weakness rendering him particularly vulnerable to such a risk.

Section 6
If a particular type of work entails a special risk to certain groups of employees, the Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may prohibit the use, for the work concerned, of employees belonging to such a group, or prescribe that special conditions are to apply when the work is done by such employees.

Section 7
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may provide that registers containing the names of the persons examined and the results of their examinations are to be kept in connection with medical examination prescribed by authority of Section 5 or 6.

Section 8
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning the notification or information of a supervisory authority or the keeping of documents of relevance to occupational safety and health.

Provisions concerning the duty of compiling documents of relevance to occupational safety and health may be similarly issued.

Section 9
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning the duty of a physician to notify a supervisory authority of disease which may be connected with work and to furnish the supervisory authority with information and assistance.

Section 10
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue such further Provisions concerning the state of the working environment and general obligations in respect of the working environment as are necessary for the prevention of ill-health and accidents at work.

Provisions may be similarly issued to the effect that a person carrying on business, singly or together with a member of his family without employees, shall comply with the Provisions made in this Act and by authority of the same concerning obligations in respects other than those referred to in Chap. 3, Section 5 (2).

Comments on Chapter 4:

The power of the Work Environment Authority to issue Provisions 
In Chap. 4 of the Work Environment Act, the Riksdag 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. There are at present about 115 Provisions and General Recommendations in force. Most of these can be found in the Statute Book of the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health. New Provisions will be collected in the Authority’s Statute Book (abbreviated AFS), but there still remain about eight earlier rules in the form of Directions and Notices. Most of these are General Recommendations, but they also include a number of Provisions. The correct designations are given in the Authority’s list of current Provisions and General Recommendations, which also indicates which points are Provisions.

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
Inspection of technical devices and dangerous substances plays an important part in practical work environment policy. Chap. 4 empowers the Work Environment Authority to issue Provisions with requirements concerning product control, product information and use where devices and substances of this kind are concerned.

The main stipulation is that of Section 1. Point 1 of that Section empowers the Work Environment Authority to lay down conditions for a product at all stages affecting its safety and design, from technical design and manufacture to marketing and use. The Authority can, for example, stipulate quality systems of the kind necessary for ensuring that the product affords adequate safety. This empowerment ties in with the requirements of the EC Product Directives and makes possible the adaptation of Swedish Provisions to those requirements.

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).

Duty to compile documents
Under Section 8, the Work Environment Authority can require employers and others responsible for safety to compile documents of importance from a safety viewpoint. This can, for example, mean activity or work environment plans of different kinds, such as the safety and health plan which, under the EC Directive on the implementation of minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites, has to be drawn up before work begins. The Authority can also stipulate that the supervisory authority is to be notified or supplied with other particulars. This can be instanced by prior notification before certain machines, technical devices or dangerous substances are put into service, or again by prior notification of construction work under the EC Directive already mentioned.

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 National Board of Occupational Safety and Health on construction work.

5. Minors

Statutory text:

Section 1
For the purposes of this Act, a minor is a person under the age of 18 years.

Section 2
A minor may not, as an employee or in any other capacity, be used for or carry out work before the calendar year in which he is 16 years of age or before he has completed his compulsory schooling.

The aforesaid notwithstanding, a minor aged 13 or over may be used for or carry out light work which is not of such a kind that it can have a detrimental effect on his health, development or schooling.

The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning exceptions to subsection one concerning the employment of a minor under the age of 13. An exception of this kind may only refer to very light work of such a kind that special and significant problems of implementation would arise if an exception were not to be allowed.

The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning work referred to in subsections two and three.

Special provisions concerning the minimum age for work on board ship are contained in the Seafarers Act (1973:282) and the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364).

Section 3
A minor may not be used for or carry out work in a manner entailing a risk of accidents or of overexertion or any other harmful effect on the minor’s health or development.

The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning conditions for or the prohibition of a minor being used for or carrying out work entailing a substantial risk of accidents or overexertion or other harmful effects on the minor’s health or development.

Section 4
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may make provision that, in a medical examination prescribed by authority of Section 2 (4) or Section 3, subsection two, a register is to be kept showing the names of the persons examined and the results of the examination.

Section 5
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning the length and arrangement of working hours for minors used for or carrying out work.

Comments on Chapter 5:

Stipulations on minors
Stipulations on the employment of minors have long been an important part of work environment legislation. In Sweden today, with nine years’ compulsory schooling and almost universal upper secondary schooling, these stipulations are less important than they used to be. The protective rules of the Work Environment Act have also been framed so as not to impede young people’s contacts with working life.

A person under the age of 18 is a minor (Section 1). A minor may not be employed before the calendar year in which he (or she) is 16, and he must have completed his compulsory schooling (Section 2). This applies both to a minor with employee status and to a minor working as an entrepreneur or in a family business. However, a minor aged 13 or over may do light work which is not harmful to his health, development or schooling.

The Work Environment Authority can issue Provisions making further exceptions to the 13-year rule, but only for very light work which would otherwise involve major problems of implementation. The Authority can also issue Provisions laying down conditions for, or totally prohibiting, the employment of minors on work which entails substantial risks (Section 3).

Furthermore, the Work Environment Authority is empowered to issue Provisions on the medical examination of minors where necessary (Sections 2-3). The Authority can also issue Provisions on the length and arrangement of minors’ working hours (Section 5).

Work on board ship is subject to special minimum age provisions of the Seafarers Act and the Maritime Safety Act which are much the same as those otherwise applicable.

6. Co-operation between Employers and Employees etc.

Statutory text:

Section 1
The employer and the employees shall conduct suitably organised safety activities.

Section 2
At every worksite where five or more persons are regularly employed, one or more of the employees shall be appointed as safety delegates. Such delegates shall also be appointed at other worksites if working conditions so require. Deputies should be appointed for safety delegates.

Safety delegates shall be appointed by the local trade union organisation currently or customarily having a collective agreement with the employer. In the absence of such an organisation, safety delegates shall be appointed by the employees.

In the case of a worksite for which no safety committee has been appointed in pursuance of Section 8, the local branch of a trade union or an association of employees comparable with such a branch may appoint a safety delegate from outside the circle of employees at the worksite (a regional safety delegate).

Provisions on the procedure for appointing safety delegates on board ship are contained in the maritime Safety Act (2003:364).

Section 3
Should more than one safety delegate be appointed at a particular worksite, one of the delegates shall be appointed senior safety delegate with the task of co-ordinating the safety delegates’ activities.

Section 4
The safety delegate represents the employees on work environment matters and shall work for a satisfactory working environment. To this end the delegate shall, within his safety area, supervise the safeguards against ill-health and accidents and compliance by the employer with the requirements of Chap. 3, Section 2 a. Safety delegates on board ship must also verify that the ship has the manning enjoined by orders or prescriptions.

The delegate shall participate in the planning of new premises, devices, work processes, working methods and work organisation or alterations to existing ones, and in planning the use of substances liable to cause ill-health or accidents. Furthermore, the safety delegate shall take part in the preparation of action plans as referred to in Chap. 3, Section 2 a.

The employer shall notify the safety delegate of any changes having a significant bearing on work environment conditions within his safety area.

Employer and employees are jointly responsible for safety delegates being given the requisite training.

Section 5
Safety delegates referred to in Section 2 (2) are entitled to leave of absence required for the performance of their duties. Such leave of absence shall not be prejudicial to remuneration or other benefits.

Section 6
The safety delegate is entitled to inspect all documents and to obtain any other information necessary for his activities.

Section 6 a
A safety delegate believing that measures need to be taken in order to achieve a satisfactory working environment shall approach the employer and request such measures. The safety delegate can also request that a certain investigation be carried out to verify conditions within his safety area. The employer shall immediately give the safety delegate, on demand, written confirmation of having received his request. The employer shall reply to the request without delay. If he fails to do so or if the request is not taken into consideration within a reasonable time, the Work Environment Authority shall, the safety delegate so demanding, consider whether an injunction or prohibition is to be issued as provided in Chap. 7, Section 7. Any such representation by a safety delegate on board ship shall instead be tendered to the Swedish Maritime Administration, which shall consider whether or not an injunction or prohibition is to be issued under the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364).

Where there is a safety committee, a safety delegate may directly require the committee to consider a question concerning the working environment.

Section 7
If a particular job involves immediate and serious danger to the life or health of an employee and if no immediate remedy can be obtained through representations to the employer, the safety delegate may order the suspension of work on that job pending a decision by the Work Environment Authority.

If considerations of health and safety so demand, and if no immediate remedy can be obtained through representations to the employer, the safety delegate may order the suspension, pending a decision by the Work Environment Authority, of work done by an employee working alone.

If a prohibition issued by a supervisory authority, having acquired force of law or requiring immediate compliance by virtue of an enactment pursuant to Chap. 9, Section 5, is disregarded, a safety delegate may immediately suspend the work to which the prohibition refers.

The safety delegate cannot be held liable for any damage resulting from a measure referred to in this Section.

Provisions on the right of a safety delegate to suspend work on board ship and on the effects of such a measure are contained in the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364). 

Section 8
At every worksite where fifty or more persons are regularly employed, there shall be a safety committee consisting of representatives of the employer and of the employees. Safety committees shall also be appointed at worksites with smaller numbers of employees if the employees so require.

Employees’ representatives shall be appointed from among the employees by the local trade union organisation currently or customarily having a collective agreement with the employer. In the absence of such an organisation, the representatives shall be appointed by the employees.

Provisions on the procedure for appointing a safety committee on board ship are contained in the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364).

Section 9
The safety committee shall participate in the planning of work environment measures at the worksite and observe their implementation. It shall maintain close observations of the development of questions relating to protection against ill-health and accidents and is to promote satisfactory work environment conditions. A safety committee on board ship shall further verify that the vessel has the manning enjoined by orders or prescriptions. The safety committee shall consider questions concerning

  1. occupational health services, 
  2. action plans as referred to in Chap. 3, Section 2 a, 
  3. the planning of new or altered facilities, devices, work processes and working methods and of work organisation, 
  4. planning of the use of substances liable to cause ill-health or accidents, 
  5. information and education concerning the working environment, 
  6. job adaptation and rehabilitation activities at the worksite. 

Section 10
Safety delegates must not be impeded in the discharge of their duties.

If a safety delegate represents an employee working at a worksite over which that employee’s employer has not control, it is the duty of the employer controlling the worksite to grant the safety delegate admittance there to the extent necessary for the discharge of the delegate’s duties.

A safety delegate must not be given inferior working conditions or conditions of employment by reason of his appointment. On the termination of his appointment, the safety delegate shall be assured of working conditions and conditions of employment identical or equivalent to those which he would have had if he had never held his appointment.

Section 11
An employer or employee contravening the stipulations of Section 10 shall make good any loss or injury caused. In determining whether loss or injury has been caused and if so the extent thereof, circumstances which are not of a purely economic character shall also be taken into account. If it appears reasonable in view of the extent of loss or injury or other circumstances involved, the damages may be reduced or waived. 

If several persons are jointly liable for damage, the liability shall be apportioned between them as is reasonable according to the circumstances.

Section 12
Any person wishing to claim compensation under Section 11 shall notify his opponent of his claim within four months of the occurrence of the loss or injury concerned. If within that period negotiations concerning the claim have been demanded under the Co-determination Act (1976:580) or by virtue of a collective agreement, an action shall be brought within four months from the conclusion of the negotiations. Otherwise an action shall be brought within eight months from the occurrence of the loss or injury.

The foregoing shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to claims concerning remuneration and other benefits with reference to Section 5.

If the stipulations of subsection one or two are not complied with, the claim concerned will lapse.

In the case of a safety delegate on board ship, the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364) applies instead of the provisions made in this Section..

Section 13
Cases concerning the application of Sections 10 and 11 shall be determined in accordance with the Industrial Litigation Act (1974:371). Claims against employees or, in cases referred to in Section 10 (2) against the person controlling a worksite shall, however, be subject to the general rules of judicial procedure.

Section 14
Sections 4-7 and 10-13 shall be applicable to an employer when the employer has been notified of the appointment of a safety delegate by the organisation or the employees making the appointment or, if the employer has not been accessible, notice of the election has been transmitted to the worksite.

Section 15
The stipulations of Section 5, Section 10 (1), (3) and Sections 11-14 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to members of safety committees. 

Section 16
The Trade Union Representatives (Status in the Workplace) Act (1974:358) shall also apply concerning safety delegates and safety committee members appointed by organisations referred to in Section 2 (2) or (3). If a safety delegate or safety committee member on board ship has been appointed by the shipboard employees, the Act shall be applied as if he or she were appointed by his/her local employees’ organisation. The provisions of this section shall not apply, however, insofar as the rights of a safety delegate or safety committee member under this Chapter or the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364) would be limited thereby.

Section 17
Persons undergoing training or education shall be given the opportunity, by the mandator of the training or education, of taking part in safety activities at the worksite through student safety delegates, if this is reasonable having regard to the nature of the training or education and its duration.

Student participation, however, does not apply to pupils below grade 7 of compulsory school or the corresponding youth education.

Section 18
Student safety delegates are appointed by the students.

The educational mandator shall ensure that the student safety delegates receive the training and leave of absence needed for their duties.

Student safety delegates are entitled to the information necessary for the discharge of their duties, except for information concerning matters which are confidential under Chap. 7, Section 13 (1). Concerning information classified as secret in public activities, the Secrecy Act (1980:100) shall apply.

Comments on Chapter 6:

Local co-operation concerning the working environment
Co-operation between employers and employees is essential for the creation of good working conditions. One of the basic underlying ideas of the Work Environment Act, therefore, is for the emphasis of work environment management to be on local co-operation. The basic rule of co-operation is set out in Chap. 3, Section 1 a. The introduction to this Chapter of the Act, dealing with co-operation (Chap. 6, Section 1), also lays down that the employer and employees must carry on suitably organised work environment activities.

Safety delegates
Worksites with five or more employees shall have one or more safety delegates. At smaller worksites too, safety delegates are to be appointed if necessary (Section 2). Safety delegates are appointed primarily by a local trade union organisation which has or usually has a collective agreement with the employer. They do not have to appoint one of their own members to be safety delegate, but this is the commonest arrangement.

If there is no organisation which has or usually has a collective agreement, the employees can elect their own safety delegate. This can be done at a meeting or in some other way, e.g. using written ballot papers. On the other hand, an organisation which does not have and does not usually have a collective agreement may never choose a safety delegate. There is nothing to prevent such an organisation arranging a meeting for the election, but the election itself must be conducted by the employees themselves, not by the organisation.

If there is more than one union organisation having a collective agreement at a worksite, the organisations themselves decide whether to have a common safety delegate or to elect separate delegates. It is assumed that all safety delegates will co-operate in matters affecting the working environment, regardless of how they have been appointed. It is also assumed that they will safeguard the interests of all employees in matters relating to the working environment, no matter how the employees are unionised. A safety delegate must be a person who works for the same employer and at the same worksite as the employees he or she will be representing.

A senior safety delegate with co-ordinating responsibilities shall be appointed at worksites with more than one safety delegate (Section 3). If there are two or more organisations, there is nothing to prevent each of them from appointing its own senior safety delegate.

Safety delegates are as a rule to be appointed for three years. They can only be relieved of their duties by resolution of the trade union organisation or the employees by whom they were appointed (Section 6 of the Work Environment Ordinance).

The range of a safety delegate’s activity is decided by the party or parties by whom the delegate was elected. It is always confined to the employees of the undertaking where the delegate is employed. Thus a safety delegate is not entitled to represent the employees of different contractors working at the same worksite. Instead the contractors’ safety delegates are also entitled to enter a common worksite under the control of another employer in order to assist their own fellow-employees (Section 10, subsection two).

Safety delegates on board ship are appointed in accordance with the rules of the are Maritime Safety Act (2003:364).

Regional safety delegates
For small worksites there is a system of so-called regional safety delegates. In the absence of a safety committee, union branches can appoint safety delegates who are not employed at the worksite concerned (Section 2, subsection three). Most often, but not necessarily, it is union officials who are appointed. Regional safety delegates can exist parallel to local safety delegates and have the same powers as the latter. Usually they cover many different worksites in a particular branch of activity, but their assignment can also be limited to one or a few worksites. It is the organisation appointing the delegate which decides the area which he or she is to cover.

Duties of safety delegates
Safety delegates represent employees in matters relating to the working environment (Section 4). Among other things, they have to take part in the planning of new or altered facilities, devices, work processes and working methods and in the planning of work organisation. They are also to take part in the preparation of action plans and are to monitor the employer’s fulfilment of the requirements concerning systematic work environment management. 

The Act also says that safety delegates are to take part in the planning of the use of potentially dangerous substances. In addition, the safety delegate is entitled to be informed by the employer of important changes in the working environment. Safety delegates on board ship are also to verify that manning agrees with the special manning rules laid down in maritime safety legislation.

It is important to remember that a safety delegate only represents the employees of the undertaking or equivalent in which the delegate has been appointed. Thus the delegate’s powers do not apply to other undertakings active at the same worksite, e.g. contractors. Their employees are represented by their own safety delegates.

Powers of safety delegates
The rights of safety delegates only take effect from the day on which the employer was notified of their election (Section 14). So it is important that the union organisation or employees who have elected a safety delegate should not forget to supply this information.

The labour market parties are jointly responsible for safety delegates receiving the necessary training (Section 4, subsection four). The delegates are also entitled to the necessary time off for their assignment. During this time off they retain their wages and other benefits from the employer (Section 5). In addition, a safety delegate is entitled to read such documents and to obtain such other information as is relevant to his duties (Section 6).

In situations of acute danger, in the event of accidents etc., the safety delegate can personally decide when to intervene and how much time to spend doing so. On the other hand, time input for day-to-day safety work included in the work of a safety delegate is decided primarily by agreement between the parties at local level. If the employer refuses to allow a safety delegate time for the assignment, this can lead to a pay dispute which can be settled in court, usually in the Labour Court. The Work Environment Authority can, on request, give an opinion on what is a reasonable time input but can never formally decide this question.

Right of requesting a decision from the Work Environment Authority
A safety delegate who is of the opinion that there is a deficiency in the working environment can request remedial action by the employer. The employer must then reply promptly in the matter. If no satisfactory reply is received within a reasonable time, the delegate can turn to the Work Environment Authority and request an injunction or prohibition. The Work Environment Authority must make a special written decision in response to such a request. The decision may mean the Authority issuing a prohibition or injunction or deciding not to intervene. In both cases, the decision can be appealed by the dissatisfied party (Section 6 a). A safety delegate on board ship can instead approach the Swedish Maritime Administration, which then has to decide whether or not to issue a prohibition or injunction under the Maritime Safety Act.

Right of suspension
The safety delegate, but not a student safety delegate, may suspend work which entails an immediate and serious danger to life or health (Section 7, subsection one). The situations referred to here are cases in which there is an imminent danger involved in allowing work to go on, until the Work Environment Authority has had time to reach a standpoint in the matter. If safety considerations so demand, the safety delegate may also suspend work done by an employee alone, even if there is no imminent danger (Section 7, subsection two). In both cases this is conditional on the safety delegate being unable to obtain an immediate remedy by approaching the employer or his representative.

Another case in which a safety delegate is entitled to suspend work is when the employer does not comply with a prohibition issued by the Work Environment Authority, e.g. prohibition of the use of a machine or substance. In such cases, however, the prohibition must have acquired force of law or there must be a special order making it immediately effective (Section 7, subsection three).

All safety delegates are entitled to suspend work within their safety area even if another safety delegate is of a different opinion. This means that a regional safety delegate can also suspend work. This, however, is conditional on there being no safety committee, because otherwise a regional safety delegate has no authority at the worksite. In addition, the organisation which appointed the regional delegate must have at least one member at the worksite.

A suspension order by a safety delegate remains in force until the Work Environment Authority has taken a stand (Section 7, subsections one and two). The Work Environment Authority, however, will not spontaneously adjudicate a question of this kind. Of course, if the employer approves the suspension, no official adjudication is needed. An employer wishing to have a safety delegate’s suspension order adjudicated must therefore approach the Work Environment Authority with a request for adjudication. The matter will then be quickly determined by the Authority.

The Authority’s decision may lead to an immediate prohibition of the suspended work. If so the Authority has taken over the suspension and continuation of the work is prohibited. A prohibition of this kind can be appealed in the usual way to the Government.

The Work Environment Authority may also come to the conclusion that there is no reason for an immediate prohibition, in which case it decides not to issue one. This means that the safety delegate’s suspension ceases to apply and work can continue. A decision of this kind does not impede the Authority from returning later with stipulations in an inspection notice or with a prohibition, should there be a change in the situation. The safety delegate can also appeal to the Government, but an appeal of this kind does not prevent work continuing unless and until it is prohibited by the Authority.

In the case of a safety delegate on board ship, the power of suspending work on board ship is governed by special rules laid down in the Maritime Safety Act.

Damages
A safety delegate may not be impeded in the discharge of his duties (Section 10). An employer or employee in breach of this can be ordered to pay damages (Section 11). The question of damages may also arise, for example, in connection with the right of taking part in planning, of inspecting certain documents and of suspending work. Furthermore, a safety delegate’s working conditions or conditions of employment may not be downgraded on account of his appointment.

In a number of cases, the Labour Court has adjudicated the question of whether the safety delegate’s fellow employees are to receive wages for time during which they have refrained from working on account of the safety delegate’s suspension order. The Court has laid down the principle that wages are to be paid if, in view of the situation prevailing at the time of the suspension, the safety delegate’s action is seen to be defensible. If, on the other hand, it is found that there was no justification for the safety delegate suspending work, this can result in no wages being paid.

Section 10 (2) empowers a safety delegate to enter a worksite even if he does not represent the employees of the employer by whom the worksite is controlled. This is conditional on the delegate representing some other employees who are working there, e.g. employees carrying out transport operations to and from the worksite or doing various kinds of contract work there. The right to damages in the event of any person obstructing the safety delegate also applies to cases of this kind.

Special rules in the Maritime Safety Act apply to safety delegates on board ship.

Safety committee
At worksites with at least fifty employees and at smaller worksites where the employees so request, there shall be a safety committee consisting of representatives of the employer and the employees (Section 8). The employees’ representatives are appointed in the first instance by a local union organisation with a collective agreement, in the same way as safety delegates. The safety committee must include at least one safety delegate. It should also include a member in a managerial or suchlike position and a member of the executive committee of the local employees’ association (Section 8 of the Work Environment Ordinance). Special rules concerning the procedure for appointing a safety committee on board ship are contained in the Maritime Safety Act. 

The safety committee has duties which give it a central position in local safety activities. Among other things the committee is required to discuss questions of occupational health services, questions concerning action plans and other planning of the working environment and questions of information and education relating to the working environment. The safety committee also has to discuss job adaptation and rehabilitation activities at the worksite (Section 9). In addition to these duties, a safety committee on board ship also has to verify that the ship is properly manned. 

There is nothing to prevent local safety committees or other types of safety body being appointed in addition to the safety committee. This, however, does not excuse the employer from the duty of ensuring that questions raised within these bodies are also dealt with in the safety committee if the law says that they are to be discussed there.

The safety committee is only a consultative body. The Act assumes that a person with a decision-making function who has taken part in a decision in the safety committee will then also put it into effect. If representatives of employer and employees in the safety committee fail to reach agreement, the question shall, on a member of the committee so requesting, be referred to the Work Environment Authority (Section 9 of the Work Environment Ordinance). The Work Environment Authority must then reply, insofar as the question comes within the scope of its authority. On the other hand, the Authority is not obliged to make a formal decision. 

The stipulations concerning time off and the liability in damages of a person impeding a safety delegate also apply to members of a safety committee.

Pupils are not employees and are therefore not entitled to appoint members of the safety committee. There is, however, nothing to prevent the parties at local level agreeing to co-opt pupils on to the committee, if this is found to be appropriate.

The Work Environment Ordinance also includes other stipulations on local work environment activities, e.g. stipulating regular safety inspection tours.

7. Supervision

Statutory text:

Section 1
The Work Environment Authority supervises the observance of this Act and of the Provisions issued pursuant to the same.

With the exception of Section 13, this chapter does not apply to work on board ship. Provisions on supervision in connection with work on board ship and restrictions of the right of using ships are contained in the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364)..

Section 2
(Repealed as from 1st January 1987 through SFS 1986:55.)

Section 3
A supervisory authority is entitled on request to receive the information, documents and samples and to order the investigations required for the enforcement of this Act.

Section 4
A person who in the course of his business uses a certain product or commissions another person to perform a certain task is duty bound to disclose the identity of the person supplying the product or performing the task when required by the supervisory authority to do so. A person having supplied or provided a technical device or supplied a substance which can cause ill-health or accidents is obliged, at the request of a supervisory authority, to furnish available particulars of the persons to whom the product has been supplied or provided.

Section 5
For the purposes of supervision under this Act, the supervisory authority shall be entitled to access to worksites and may carry out investigations or take samples there. No compensation shall be payable for samples taken.

It is the duty of the police authorities to provide such assistance as may be required for the enforcement of the Act.

Provisions concerning payment of compensation to a supervisory authority for its reasonable expenses in connection with sampling and the testing of samples can be issued by the Government or, at the Government’s discretion, by the Work Environment Authority.

Section 6
If at a common worksite there is no person in whom co-ordinating responsibility has been vested pursuant to Chapter 3, Section 7, the Work Environment Authority may ordain who is to have such responsibility. If there are special grounds for doing so, the Work Environment Authority may ordain that co-ordinating responsibility is to be vested in some other person than the person having such responsibility according to the said Section.

For the purposes of the foregoing, the co-ordinating responsibility shall be vested in the person ordering construction or heavy engineering work at the common worksite or in one of the persons conducting activities there.

Section 7
The Work Environment Authority may issue a party having safety liability under Chapter 3, Sections 2-12 and 14, Chap, 5, Section 3 (1) or Section 6 of this Chapter with such injunctions or prohibitions as are needed to secure compliance with this Act or with Provisions issued pursuant to the same.

Injunctions or prohibitions by the Work Environment Authority may be issued subpœna.

Should any person neglect to take the measure required of him in an injunction, the Work Environment Authority may order rectification at his expense.

If an injunction has been issued concerning a measure for which a building permit, demolition permit or ground permit is required under the Planning and Building Act (1987:10) but such a permit is refused, the injunction shall lapse as far as the measure is concerned.

Section 8
If premises, land or a space underground provided for work or as personnel facilities are unsatisfactory in terms of safety and health, the Work Environment Authority may, pursuant to Section 7, prohibit their further provision until specified improvements have been made to the premises, land or other space concerned.

The Work Environment Authority may issue the person providing premises, land or a space below ground for work or as personnel facilities with injunctions under Section 7 for the investigation of safety conditions in the place concerned.

Section 9
(Repealed as from 1st January 2001 through SFS 2000:764.)

Section 10
To ensure that a prohibition pursuant to Section 7 or 8 is complied with, a supervisory authority may order a building, space or device to be sealed or otherwise shut off. Provision for the execution of such an order shall be made by the authority.

Section 11
The person responsible for safety under Chap. 3, Sections 8-10 can, if there is a special risk relating to the working environment, be enjoined to supply cautionary information or to recall a product. The content of such an injunction shall correspond to what is indicated in Sections 14-18 of the Product Safety Act (2004:51). The provision made there concerning manufactures shall, however, instead be applied to the person incurring responsibility for safety under Chap. 3, Sections 8-10.

The order shall be made subpœna except where, for special reasons, this is unnecessary.

Section 12
The Government may prescribe that special charges are to be levied in matters coming under this Act.

Section 13
A person who has been appointed to serve as a safety delegate or on a safety committee, or who has taken part in job adaptation and rehabilitation activities pursuant to this Act, may not improperly divulge or utilise facts which have come to his knowledge in the course of his duties concerning professional secrets, working procedures, business dealings, the personal circumstances of individuals or matters relating to national defence.

A delegate, member or participant who has been appointed by a local organisation of employees as referred to in Chap. 6, Sections 2 and 8 may, notwithstanding the duty of confidentiality defined in the foregoing, transmit information to a member of the executive committee of the organisation or to a work environment expert with a central organisation of employees to which the local organisation belongs. This right of transmitting information applies only if the informant notifies the recipient of the duty of confidentiality. In such a case, the duty of confidentiality also applies to the latter.

In the public sector, the stipulations of Chap. 14, Sections 7, 9 and 10 of the Secrecy Act (1980:100) are instead to apply.

Section 14
The supervisory authority shall supply safety delegates with a transcript of the written communications made to a worksite in matters of safety and health.

Comments on Chapter 7:

Supervisory authority
This Chapter contains the basic rules concerning official supervision of compliance with the Work Environment Act. As from 1st January 2001, the Work Environment Authority is the supervisory authority. Supervision was formerly exercised by the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health and the Labour Inspectorate, but these authorities ceased to exist on 31st December 2000. Supervision of work on board ship, including both civilian vessels and warships, is however exercised by the Swedish Maritime Administration. Within the Administration, supervisory activities are conducted by the Maritime Safety Inspectorate, which is divided into three districts. More detailed provisions concerning supervision of ships are contained in the Maritime Safety Act, and Section 13 is the only provision of Chap. 7 applicable to work on board ship (Section 1).

The Work Environment Authority is headed by a Directorate consisting of the Director-General and up to six other members. Regional inspection activities are divided into ten districts.

This Chapter also includes rules concerning the sanctions which the Work Environment Authority can resort to if a party with safety obligations, e.g. an employer, is in breach of the Work Environment Act or of any Provision issued by authority of the Act. Provisions of this kind can have been issued by the Government and by the Work Environment Authority or the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health.

Official powers
Chap. 7 contains the basic rules defining the powers of the supervisory authority. Under Section 3 they are entitled on request to obtain the information and documents which they require for their supervisory activities. They are also entitled to obtain specimens and to have investigations carried out (Section 4). Section 5 empowers the authority to enter all worksites and to carry out investigations and take specimens there without paying for them. The Work Environment Authority can issue injunctions against any party not complying with these stipulations. As an ultimate resort, the Authority can request police assistance.

Prohibitions and injunctions
If, in the course of its supervisory activity or in any other way, the Work Environment Authority finds out that an employer is committing a breach of the Act or of a Provision which the Government, the Work Environment Authority or the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health has issued by authority of the Act, the Authority shall ensure that the deficiencies are rectified. As a general rule the employer then receives an inspection notice with written stipulations requiring him to do this within a certain length of time.

If the employer does not comply with the inspection notice, the Work Environment Authority can issue an injunction for the taking of a certain measure, such as improving ventilation. The Authority can also issue a prohibition, e.g. of the use of a certain machine or facility or the carrying on of a certain activity unless the machine is fitted with a guard, the facility repaired or other specified measures taken (Chap. 7, Section 7). A party failing to comply with an injunction or prohibition can be punished. The Work Environment Authority can also set a contingent fine, to be exacted if the (subpœna) injunction or prohibition is not complied with. If so, the contingent fine takes the place of a penalty.

Prohibitions and injunctions can be addressed to others besides the employer. They can also be directed against all the “players” enumerated in Chap. 3. A certain limitation applies, however, to property owners. A landlord cannot, as such, be ordered to take remedial action concerning the working environment. On the other hand, he can be forbidden in future to let or otherwise provide certain facilities or areas of land for the type of activity concerned, pending rectification of certain specified deficiencies (Section 8).

A prohibition of this kind applies for as long as the measures indicated in the decision have not been taken. On the other hand, it does not mean that the landlord is duty bound to carry out or pay for those measures. The location of this duty will depend on the content of the tenancy agreement. The supervisory authority is not empowered to decide the question of payment.

Sometimes there may be reason to suspect that an employer or some other party with safety obligations is going to disobey a prohibition of the use, say, of an installation, a machine or a facility. If so, the Work Environment Authority may decide to seal it. A sealing order of this kind is effected by the authority itself, by sealing the installation, machine or facility.

8. Penalties

Statutory text:

Section 1
Any person intentionally or negligently failing to comply with an injunction or prohibition issued to him in pursuance of Chap. 7, Sections 7-10, may be fined or sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year. This shall not apply, however, if the said injunction or prohibition was issued under penalty of a fine.

Section 2
Fines may be imposed on persons intentionally or negligently

employing a minor in contravention of Chap. 5, Section 2, (1) or of Provisions issued pursuant to Chap. 5, Section 2 , subsections three or four, 
contravening Provisions issued pursuant to Chap. 4, Sections 1-8 or Chap. 5, Section 3 (2), Section 4 or 5, 
furnishing incorrect particulars in matters of importance when a supervisory authority has requested information, documents or samples or has requested investigations pursuant to Chap. 7, Section 3 or 4, 
removing a safety device or rendering such a device inoperative without valid cause. 
Liability shall not be imposed under this stipulation if a Provision concerning a sanction charge, as provided in Section 5, has been issued for the offence in question.

Section 3
Stipulations concerning liability for infringements of Chap. 7, Section 13, are contained in Chap. 20, Section 3, of the Penal Code.

Forfeiture

Section 4 
Any device or substance which has been used in connection with offences coming under this Chapter and in violation of a prohibition under Chap. 4, Section 4, or Chap. 7, Section 7, or the value of such a device or substance, shall be declared forfeit save where such forfeiture would be patently undue.

Sanction charge

Section 5 
The Government, or by authority of the Government, the Work Environment Authority may prescribe payment of a special charge for infringement of a Provision issued by authority in any respect as referred to in Chap. 4, Sections 1-3 or 8 (1). The charge shall be paid even if the infringement was not intentional or negligent.

A Provision of this kind shall indicate how the charge is computed for different kinds of infringement. The charge payable shall be directly ascertainable on the basis of calculation indicated. The charge shall be at least SEK 1,000 and at most SEK 100,000.

Section 6
The charge shall be imposed on the natural or juristic person who conducted the activity in which the infringement occurred.

The charge may be adjusted or waived if its imposition on the calculation basis indicated would be undue.

The charge accrues to the State.

Section 7
Questions concerning the imposition of charges are adjudicated by the county administrative court at the instance of the Work Environment Authority.

Leave to appeal is required for appeals to the administrative court of appeal.

Section 8
A charge may be imposed only if the person against whom the claim is directed has been apprised of the application within five years of the time when the infringement occurred.

A decision whereby a charge is imposed shall be sent immediately to the county administrative board. The charge shall be paid to the county administrative board within two months of the decision acquiring force of law. Information to this effect shall be included in the decision.

If the charge is not paid within the time indicated in subsection two, an arrears charge shall be levied as provided in the Delay Charges Act (1997:484). The unpaid charge and arrears charge shall be referred for debt recovery. Stipulations on debt recovery are contained in the Debt Recovery (State Claims etc.) Act (1993:891). In the event of debt recovery, enforcement may be resorted to under the Attachment Code.

Section 9
Questions concerning the imposition of charges may be adjudicated by the Work Environment Authority through a payment injunction.

A payment injunction implies that the person presumably guilty of an infringement is presented with the charge for approval immediately or within a certain length of time.

An injunction, once approved, is equated with a binding court judgement imposing a charge. Approval after the expiry of the period defined in the injunction is, however, null and void.

Section 10
A charge which has been imposed will lapse if unenforced within five years of the decision acquiring force of law.

Comments on Chapter 8:

Penalties and contingent fines
If an employer or some other party with a safety obligation fails to comply with an injunction or prohibition, this can lead to a penalty in the form of a fine or imprisonment (Section 1). A penalty can be imposed both if the crime was committed deliberately and if it was committed through negligence. A company, a public authority or any other juristic person, however, cannot be convicted in this way. Instead it is one or more representatives of the juristic person who are prosecuted and fined or sentenced to imprisonment.

If the Work Environment Authority has set a contingent fine, this can be imposed instead by a court. If so, it takes the place of a penalty, which will not come into question in this situation. Unlike a penalty, a contingent fine is normally imposed on the juristic person, e.g. a company, association or municipality. Often too it involves far larger sums of money than is normally the case with fines.

Compliance with a prohibition is also guaranteed by the right of a safety delegate to suspend work which is contrary to the prohibition (Chap. 6, Section 7, subsection three).

The Act defines direct penal sanctions for a number of cases (Chap. 8, Section 2). In cases of this kind, no injunction or prohibition by the Work Environment Authority is necessary in order for a penalty to be imposed. Thus the Work Environment Authority can issue Provisions with direct penal sanctions concerning, for example:

  • permission for the use of a facility, a work process or a working method, 
  • approval or some other certificate of a product’s compliance with current requirements, 
  • testing, control or inspection certificate in order for use of a technical device or dangerous substance to be permissible, 
  • special conditions for the use of technical devices or chemical products, 
  • prohibition of the use of work processes, working methods, technical devices or chemical products, 
    medical examinations of employees, 
  • labelling of technical devices or chemical products, 
  • notices and other particulars to be supplied to the supervisory authorities, 
  • registers and lists to be kept by employers and others with safety responsibilities, 
  • age limits and working hours rules for minors.  

It is also a punishable offence to

  • furnish untruthful particulars when the Work Environment Authority has requested information, documents or specimens, and to 
  • remove a safety device or render it inoperative without valid cause.

One precondition of penal liability in all these cases is that the offence must have been committed deliberately or negligently. The penalty is fines. There are also stipulations of the Penal Code which may come into play when an accident or a work-related disease has resulted from irregularities in the working environment. Abuses of this kind can therefore result in one or more representatives of the employer being convicted of work environment offences. Incidents can also lead to punishment if they were due to gross negligence.

Forfeiture
A machine or chemical product used contrary to a prohibition can be declared forfeit (Chap. 8, Section 4). This means that it can be taken away from the party who used it. Alternatively, the value of the machine or product can be declared forfeit. If so, the user has to pay this amount of money to the State.

Sanction charges
The Work Environment Authority is entitled to impose sanction charges instead of penalties. The idea is for charges of this kind to be made applicable in certain limited areas where they are judged suitable. It is then the task of the Authority, in a Provision, to give a careful indication of the area in which the charge is applicable. The size of the charge may not be made to depend on any assessment but shall be possible to compute according to the omission concerned. In the Provisions, therefore, the Authority shall also indicate exactly how the charge is to be computed. The charge is not to be imposed on any individual employee but will be incurred directly by the undertaking or its equivalent.

It is the county administrative court, at the instance of the Work Environment Authority, which decides whether a charge is to be imposed. The Authority, however, can issue the company or equivalent with charge injunctions. If an injunction of this kind is approved by an authorised signatory, it has the same validity as a court judgement, in which case the matter need not be referred to the county administrative court.

It can in many cases be a complicated undertaking for the Authority to establish appropriate criteria for computing the charge. It is therefore to be expected that some time will elapse before the Authority has been able to issue any considerable number of Provisions on sanction charges. Only one such Provision has been issued so far, viz concerning carelessness to have pressure vessels and other pressure-retaining devices inspected. In fields where no Provisions on sanction charges have been issued, the penal stipulations remain in force.

9. Appeals

Statutory text:

Section 1
(Repealed, with effect from 1st January 2001, through SFS 2000:764.)

Section 2
Decisions by the Work Environment Authority in matters of safety responsibility under Chap. 3, Sections 8-10 may be contested by appeal to a common administrative court. The same shall apply concerning decisions by the Authority in matters relating to the implementation of Provisions issued pursuant to Chap. 5, Section 2 (3) and (4), Section 3 (2) or Section 5.

Appeals to an administrative court of appeal are subject to the grant of leave to appeal.

Other decisions made by the Work Environment Authority pursuant to this Act or by authority of a Government Ordinance pursuant to the same may be contested by appeal to the Government.

Section 3
To safeguard the interest of employees in matters coming under this Act, appeals as per Section 2 may be lodged by the senior safety delegate or, in the absence of a senior safety delegate, by some other safety delegate. 

If there is no safety delegate the appropriate association of employees may lodge an appeal insofar as the matter concerns its members’ interests. If the claim concerns a matter other than work on board ship, the organisation must previously have returned a statement in the matter.

Section 4
Concerning Provisions, the Work Environment Authority may refer matters of special importance to the Government before deciding them.

Section 5
A supervisory authority may ordain that its decision shall be complied with immediately.

Comments on Chapter 9:

Right of appeal against decisions
Most of the Work Environment Authority’s decisions can be appealed (Section 2). Recourse is had to the Government (but the appeal is sent to the Work Environment Authority).

Decisions by the Authority in matters relating to minors, however, are appealed to the county administrative court. There is no appeal against decisions by the Authority concerning Provisions issued by authority of the Work Environment Act.

A party in a matter is always entitled to appeal. A senior safety delegate may also lodge an appeal under the Work Environment Act (Section 3). If there is no senior safety delegate, it is the local and regional safety delegates at the worksite who have the right of appeal. If there is no safety delegate at all, a union organisation may appeal if it has previously made a pronouncement in the matter.

A special procedure applies concerning decisions directed against manufacturers and suppliers. Decisions of this kind by the Work Environment Authority are appealed, not to the Government but to a county administrative court. The court’s decision can then be appealed in the administrative court of appeal, but this is subject to the administrative court of appeal granting leave to appeal.

If the Work Environment Authority intends to issue a Provision of particular importance, either to the national economy or in some other respect, it may refer the matter to the Government for consideration (Section 4).

Normally a decision will not apply until it has acquired force of law. If, therefore, less than three weeks have passed since the decision was made or if it has been appealed, then in the majority of cases it does not have to be complied with. Sometimes, though, it is important for a decision by the Work Environment Authority to be put into effect immediately, i.e. without waiting to see if it will be contested by appeal. The authority may therefore prescribe that its decision is to be complied with immediately (Section 5). When this happens, a party not wanting the decision to take effect until the appeal has been heard must apply to the Government or court which is to adjudicate the appeal for a stay of execution.

Interim Provisions

Comments: 

Among other things, the Interim Provisions make it clear that the Directions and Provisions issued by the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health pursuant to the Workers’ Protection Act are to remain in force until new Provisions have been issued .

Statutory text:

1977:1160
This Act enters into force on 1st July 1978, when the Workers’ Protection Act (1949:1) and the Forest Accommodation Act (1963:246) shall cease to apply. 
- – -

Any Provision, Recommendation or Direction issued pursuant to Section 45 (2) or (3), or Section 74 (2) of the Workers’ Protection Act and applying at the time when this Act becomes law, shall remain in force within its previous scope and, for the purposes of this Act, shall be deemed to have been issued in pursuance of the same.

The stipulations of subsection two shall apply, mutatis mutandis, concerning a Provision, Recommendation or Direction mentioned there but due to enter into force on 1st July 1978 or subsequently.

If reference or allusion is made in an enactment or other regulation to a Provision superseded by a stipulation of this Act, the latter shall apply instead.
- – -

Any Provision, Recommendation or Direction issued pursuant to Section 45 (2) or (3), or Section 74 (2) of the Workers’ Protection Act and applying at the time when this Act becomes law, shall remain in force within its previous scope and, for the purposes of this Act, shall be deemed to have been issued in pursuance of the same.

The stipulations of subsection two shall apply, mutatis mutandis, concerning a Provision, Recommendation or Direction mentioned there but due to enter into force on 1st July 1978 or subsequently.

If reference or allusion is made in an enactment or other regulation to a Provision superseded by a stipulation of this Act, the latter shall apply instead.
- – -

The Work Environment Ordinance

SFS 1977:1166, amended in SFS 1980:429, 1980:686, 1980:852, 1981:288, 1982:902, 1982:1092, 1984:51, 1985:331, 1985:853, 1987:357, 1988:316, 1989:368, 1989:794, 1990:234, 1990:974, 1991:678, 1992:756, 1992:1136, 1993:953, 1994:580, 1994:673, 1995:146, 1995:482, 1995:821, 1995:1346, 1997:137, 1998:912, 2000:957, 2001:83, 2003:442, 2003:791.

Section 1
In addition to the provisions indicated in Chap. 1, Section 2 a of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160), Chap. 2, Sections 4-6. Section 7 (1) first sentence and Chap. 3, Sections 6 and 7 of the same Act shall apply to foreign vessels in Swedish territorial waters.

Notification of occupational injury etc.

Section 2 
If an accident or other harmful influence at work has caused death or severe injury or affected several employees simultaneously, the employer shall notify the Work Environment Authority without delay. The same shall apply in the event of incidents seriously endangering life or health.

Provision concerning notification of occupational injury is also made in the Ordinance (1977:284) concerning occupational injury insurance and state injury insurance.

Prescriptions concerning the duty of the captain to report certain occurrences in connection with work on board ship are contained in Chap. 6, Section 14 of the Maritime Code (1994:1009).

Section 2 a
A physician shall notify the Work Environment Authority of diseases which may be connected with employment and are material to the working environment, and shall also inform and assist the said Authority.

Storage of documents

Section 3 
Written messages from the Work Environment Authority concerning matters of safety and health and certificates or records of control, testing or examination as referred to in Chap. 4, Sections 1-3 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160), together with other documents in this connection shall be kept available, by the employer or by a party professionally engaged in activities without having any employees, for at least five years after their date of issue. Registers, as referred to in Chap. 4, Section 7, and Chap. 5, Section 4 of the Work Environment Act, shall be kept by the employer for at least ten years after the date of the last entry. Registers referred to in Chap. 4, Section 3 (1) (2) shall be kept by the employer for at least 40 years after the day on which exposure ended.

In the event of a business changing hands, documents referred to in subsection one are to be transmitted to the new owner.

Under Section 18 (1) (3) the Work Environment Authority may stipulate other storage periods and repositories.

Common worksite

Section 4 
The person responsible under Chap. 3, Section 7, or Chap. 7, Section 6 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160) for the co-ordination of safety measures shall put up a notice to this effect at the common worksite.

Statutory texts to be made available

Section 5 
The employer shall ensure that the Work Environment Act (1977:1160) and this Ordinance are available to the workers. The same applies to statutory instruments issued by authority of the Act or Ordinance, if applicable to the employer’s activity.

Provisions concerning the statutory texts to be made available on board ship are contained in Chap. 5, Section 2 of the Maritime Safety Ordinance (2003:438).

Local safety activities

Section 6 
Safety delegates and their deputies shall be appointed for a period of three years, unless exceptions are necessitated by conditions of employment or other circumstances.

The safety delegates appointed shall be persons with insight and interest in questions concerning the working environment. A safety delegate shall be closely familiar with working conditions in his safety area.

The number of safety delegates appointed shall be determined according to the size of the worksite, the nature of the work and the working conditions. If there is doubt among the employees concerning the number of safety delegates who should be appointed at a worksite or concerning the division of a worksite into safety areas, the employer and the Work Environment Authority should be consulted before elections are held. If a worksite comprises several departments, a safety delegate should be appointed for each department or group of departments involving similar work. If work is done in shifts, shift teams with several employees should have a safety delegate among the employees in each shift.

A safety delegate may be relieved of his duties by resolution of the organisation or employees appointing him.

Concerning safety delegates on board ship, Chap. 5, Section 3 of the Maritime Safety Ordinance (2003:438) shall apply instead of this section.

Section 6 a
For every grade at the senior level of compulsory school and for every line and specialised course of at least one year’s duration in upper secondary school, two representatives of the students shall be appointed to take part in school safety activities as student safety delegates under Chap. 6, Section 17 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160). Elsewhere in the educational sector, the number of student safety delegates shall be determined with reference to the number of students and their working conditions.

Section 7
Regular supervision shall be carried out at every worksite in the form of a safety inspection tour.

Section 8
The number of members constituting a safety committee shall be determined according to the number of persons employed at the worksite, the nature of the work and working conditions there. If possible, one of the members shall occupy managerial or comparable status. The committee should also include a member of the executive committee of a local employees’ association. It shall also include one or more safety delegates.

The chairman and secretary of the safety committee are to be appointed by the employer, unless otherwise agreed.

Concerning safety committees on board ship, Chap. 5, Section 6 of the Maritime Safety Ordinance (2003:438) shall apply instead of this section. 

Section 8 a
A safety committee should meet at least once every three months.

Meetings of the safety committee should also be attended by representatives of the occupational health services.

Two of the student safety delegates appointed as provided in Chap. 6, Section 17 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160), may attend and address safety committee meetings. The student safety delegates in each safety committee area decide for themselves which person or persons shall represent them at the meeting.

Section 9
If representatives of employers and employees in a safety committee are unable to agree on a decision, the question shall be referred to the Work Environment Authority if a member of the committee so requests, which shall then deliberate on the matter insofar as it comes within the Authority’s sphere of competence.

Any decision taken by a safety committee should include the time within which the decision is to be put into effect.

Section 10
Particulars concerning the name and address of a safety delegate, his safety area and the period for which he has been appointed, shall be transmitted in writing to the employer and the Work Environment Authority by the organisation or employees electing the safety delegate, as soon as possible after his election. If a safety delegate is replaced, it shall be indicated which person the new safety delegate replaces.

If a safety committee has been appointed, the employer shall give the Work Environment Authority written notice to this effect.

The employer shall put up a notice at the worksite showing the names of safety delegates and safety committee members.

Concerning safety delegates or safety committees on board ship, Chap. 5, Section 7 of the Maritime Safety Ordinance (2003:438) shall apply instead of this section. 

Section 11
An employer shall notify the senior safety delegate or, failing such a delegate, another safety delegate of decisions in a building permit matter relating to working premises or personnel facilities. If there is no safety delegate, notice of the decision shall be given to the organisation representing the employees.

Section 12
An employer shall inform a safety delegate, a safety committee or an employees’ association of any application for permission to carry on environmentally hazardous activity or notification of such activity as provided in the Environmentally Hazardous Activity and Health Protection Ordinance (1998:899).

Section 13
A safety delegate shall retain for at least two years a transcript of any written communication received by him from a supervisory authority. If the safety delegate relinquishes his appointment, the transcript is to be transmitted to his successor.
Chap. 5, Section 9 of the Maritime Safety Ordinance (2003:438) shall apply instead of this section on board ship. 

Section 14
Chap. 6, Section 7 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160) shall not apply to military exercises directed by the Armed Forces or municipal rescue organisation exercises concerning activity during heightened preparedness.

Section 14 a
In the event of this country being at war, the stipulations of Chap. 2 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160) shall be applied also with due regard for the needs of the total defence establishment. Furthermore, the stipulations of Chap. 5, Sections 2 and 3 of the Work Environment Act may be waived, as may Provisions issued pursuant to the said Act, if this is made necessary by the needs of the total defence establishment. Prior to such waiver, the employer shall if possible consult the safety delegate concerned. 
The Work Environment Authority shall be notified of the waiver as soon as possible.

In the event of the country being in danger of war or of extraordinary conditions prevailing such as are occasioned by the country having been at war or in danger of war, the stipulations of subsection one shall apply, by Government Ordinance, from the point in time which the Government chooses.

Supervision

Section 15
The supervisory authority shall endeavour, by means of measures referred to in Chap. 7 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160), to establish a satisfactory working environment. Supervision shall be aimed at ensuring that employers plan and conduct their activities in such a way as to accommodate requirements concerning the working environment. In the course of supervision, a holistic assessment shall be aimed at.

The supervisory authority shall notify the Consumer Ombudsman if it finds that there is a case for intervention under the Marketing Act (1995:450) against marketing measures addressed to employers.

In the case of work done in the home, inspection visits are only to be paid at the request of the employer or employee concerned or if there is some other special reason for them. The same shall apply concerning work done by a person carrying on business without employees or employing only a member or members of his family.

In mattes of supervision on board ship, the provisions of the Maritime Safety Act (2003:364) and prescriptions issued by authority of the same shall apply instead of the provisions made in this Ordinance. 

Section 16
When officially visiting a worksite, the supervisory authority or the inspection body carrying out an inspection as prescribed by such an authority shall contact a safety delegate who is accessible at the worksite.

Section 17
(Repealed as from 1st July 1995, through SFS 1995:482).

Statutory powers

Section 18 
The Work Environment Authority is empowered to

  • issue Provisions pursuant to Chap. 4, Sections 1-7 and Chap. 5, Section 2, subsections three and four, Section 3, subsection two, and Sections 4 and 5 of the Work Environment Act (1977: 1160), 
  • issue Provisions pursuant to Chap. 4, Section 8 of the Work Environment Act in cases other than those referred to in Sections 1, 2 and 3 of this Government Ordinance, 
  • concerning documents referred to in Section 3 of this Government Ordinance, issue Provisions concerning other storage times than are there provided for and concerning the place of storage, 
  • issue Provisions concerning sanction charges under Chap. 8, Section 5 of the Work Environment Act, 
  • issue more detailed Provisions concerning a physician’s duty of notification under Section 2 a, 
  • issue Provisions pursuant to Chap. 4, Section 10 of the Work Environment Act, 
  • issue further Provisions for the implementation of the Work Environment Act. 

The Work Environment Authority may issue Provisions concerning occupational exposure limit values to be observed in the planning and control of the working environment.

Provisions also impinging on the jurisdiction of another authority are to be issued by the Work Environment Authority after consulting that authority.

The Work Environment Authority may also allow exemptions from Provisions which the Authority has issued.

Section 18 a
Provisions concerning leave of absence for the discharge of duties as a student safety delegate under Chap. 6, Section 17 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160) are contained 
- in Chap. 6 of the Compulsory School Ordinance (1994:1194),
- in Chap. 6 of the Upper Secondary Schools Ordinance (1992:394),
- in Chap. 7 of the Special Schools Ordinance (1995:401),
- in Chap. 6 of the Ordinance Concerning Compulsory Schools for the Mentally Retarded (1995:206), and
- in Chap. 6 of the Ordinance Concerning Compulsory Upper Secondary Schools for the Mentally Retarded (1994:741).

Section 18 b
The National School Board and the boards of universities and colleges are empowered, within their spheres of activity, to issue Provisions for the implementation of Chap. 6, Section 17, subsection one of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160).

Liability etc.

Section 19 
Provision concerning liability for contravention of Sections 1-3 or of a Provision issued pursuant to Section 18, subsection one 1-3 of this Ordinance is made in Chap. 8, Section 2 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160).

In conjunction with a Provision issued pursuant to Section 18, subsection one 1-3, it shall be made clear that infringement may entail penal sanctions. This does not apply, however, if a Provision on a sanction charge has been issued for the infringement, as provided in Chap. 8, Section 5 of the Work Environment Act.

Section 20
A transcript of the record of any judgement or final decision in proceedings concerning liability under the Work Environment Act (1977:1160), or under Provisions issued pursuant to the same, shall be sent to the Work Environment Authority. The same shall apply to proceedings concerning liability under Chap. 3, Sections 7-10 of the Penal Code, if the proceedings relate to the liability of an employer or employee for causing damage or injury or for putting an employee in danger.

Section 21
Provisions of this Government Ordinance referring to the Work Environment Authority shall, with regard to ships, apply instead to the National Maritime Administration, subject to the exceptions entailed by this section. 

As regards protection from ill-health and accidents on warships, the National Maritime Administration shall consult the Work Environment Authority to the extent necessary. With regard to ships laid up in shipyards in Sweden, the Work Environment Authority, after consulting the Swedish Maritime Administration, shall issue the prescriptions necessary with regard to co-ordination of safety precautions. The same applies concerning a vessel which is in a Swedish port and which, due to loading or discharge of cargo being in progress, is a common worksite.

The provisions of Section 2 (1) shall not apply to warships.

Section 22
A party whose activities have been a subject of supervision under Chap. 7 of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160) shall reimburse the supervisory authorities for the cost of examining samples reasonably demanded.

A charge, determined by the Work Environment Authority, is payable for scrutiny by the Authority of machinery, implements, safety equipment or other technical devices conducted on behalf of the party intending to supply or provide the device or otherwise on that party’s account. 

Interim Provisions 

This Ordinance enters into force on 1st July 1978.

Provisions or conditions issued by the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health pursuant to the Workers’ Protection Ordinance - – -
- – -, applying at the time when this Ordinance enters into force, shall remain in force within their previous scope and, for purposes of the Work Environment Act (1977:1160), shall be deemed to have been issued pursuant to the corresponding stipulation of the same Act.

The stipulations of subsection two shall apply, mutatis mutandis, concerning a Provision or condition mentioned there but due to enter into force on 1st July 1978 or subsequently.
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