Work environment and work safety

A good and safe work environment refers both to the physical environment (e. g. equipped with appropriate fire alarms and  exists), and to the intangible environment (e.g. free of  discrimination and harassment). 

The employer has the main responsibility for the work environment, and they are expected to work together with the employees in ensuring a safe work environment.

Many workplaces have a safety representative (skyddsombud) who is the employees’ elected representative in work environment questions. 

The safety representative is a member of the trade union, and works in close collaboration with the trade union. The duties of the safety ombud usually include participation in planning of changes that affect your work environment, health and safety inspections, and investigations into incidents and occupational injuries. If the safety representative discovers shortcomings in the work environment, they can ask the employer to fix these shortcomings. They can also report violations to the appropriate authorities. You should report shortcomings in your work environment to the representative.

The safety of the physical environment includes things such as fire safety and indoor climate, as well as lab safety. 

There is an obligation that the employer ensures a person who will carry out a job receives sufficient instruction to be able to perform the work safely. You should, therefore, have an introduction to the work and the work environment when you begin your studies and, if you work in a lab, you should be instructed specifically in safety for the particular labs. 

There is also an obligation for the employer to take any steps necessary to avoid scheduling working hours that may lead to ill health among employees, and in general an obligation to consider the effects of the work schedule on employee health. This means, among other things, that the employer should not have the expectation that the employees are always reachable, through email or phone. 

The employer should in general ensure that employees have the opportunity to rest and recover.
The Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) is a regulatory authority, who has the mandate from the government and the Parliament to see that laws about work environment and working hours are followed by companies and organisations. It has issued guidelines on  organisational and social work environment, which employers are supposed to follow. Employers who do not follow these recommendations can be reported to the authority, which has the right to inspect the work environment. You can consult the guidelines here.