Responsible for the work environment
What type of work environment we have and what we can do to prevent ill health at work is determined by the Swedish Work Environment Act, the rules and regulations of the Swedish Work Environment Authority as well as collective agreements (linked information only in Swedish). Your workplace should be adapted to you - not the other way around.
Your employer is ultimately responsible for your work environment but it is also the responsibility of every employee to draw attention to potential problems, risks or improvements. What your employer does not know, he or she cannot do anything about and consequently, it is important that you speak to your employer if you feel that there is a problem with your work environment.
Work environment representative at work
Under the Swedish Work Environment Act, all workplaces employing five or more people should have a work environment representative. The work environment representative is an elected representative whose duty it is to monitor the work environment efforts of the employer. The main purpose of this is to ensure the wellbeing of you and your colleagues - both at work and outside of work. If you feel that there is a problem with your work environment then you can turn to your work environment representative (Health & Safety Officer) at your place of work. If necessary, your work environment representative can make a formal request for certain work environment measures to be taken.
Managing a seamless working life
Many employees are today experiencing what we at Unionen refer to as a seamless working life. In other words, people can work wherever and whenever. Finding a work-life balance is much easier when you yourself is in charge of your own working hours. However, being available at all times and never really switching off from your work is associated with a number of health risks. It is important to clearly differentiate your working life from your personal life.
The amount of overtime you do will also have an effect on your work environment, including the possibility of taking breaks.
Constant availability means different things in different workplaces. This is why it is important to have a work environment management system in place to help identify potential problems, find solutions and common ground in the workplace. Discussing your work environment with your employer Support is available to anyone wishing to raise the question about out-of-hours availability as part of the work environment management in the workplace.
Physical work environment
A sore back, neck or shoulders, a mouse arm (Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)) or problems with your eyes are examples of common physical complaints found in the workplace. In order to alleviate these and other problems, special equipment such as a customised workstation/desk, computer glasses, etc., might be needed.
Psychosocial work environment
Psychosocial aspects of your work environment include, among other, how well you get on with your colleagues and how you are affected by organisational and management issues and decisions. Stress and other psychosocial issues at work can lead to a number of health related problems and must therefore be dealt with as part of a systematic work environment management. Poor mental health is one of the more common reasons for people taking sick leave owing to a stressful psychosocial work environment. If you feel affected by a stressful psychosocial work environment, talk to your employer and work environment representative. You can then together decide on whether or not to contact the Occupational Health Services.
An occupational injury is an illness or injury that you suffer while at work. Both physical and psychological problems are classified as occupational injuries. An occupational accident is an accident that happens when you are on your way to or from work. It is important that you report any suspected cases of occupational injuries or accidents.
Some work situations are more exposed than others to threats, violence and robbery. Working alone can also be seen as a work environment risk. However, preventive measures can be taken to avoid or decrease the risk of such threat, violence and robbery and to improve the safety and security for those exposed to risky work environments. It is the responsibility of your employer to ensure your safety at work.
Alcohol and drugs at work
All workplaces are required to provide guidelines on the correct procedure if one employee suspects or knows another employee to be using alcohol or drugs at work. There are things you can do yourself in relation to alcohol or drug related issues at work.
Unionen can provide you with guidelines on how to work with alcohol and drug related issues at work and also, how to prevent and deal with any problems that may arise.
What Unionen can do to assist you
As a member of Unionen, we can assist you with the following:
- Information about your rights and obligations as an employee
- Information about how to report an occupational injury/accident, rehabilitation and workplace adjustments or in case of a dispute relating to a compensation claim
- Make demands on your behalf as an employee under the law, collective agreements and your contract of employment.
- Support from Unionen’s Regional Work Environment Officer in matters concerning your work environment.
Please note that the information and advice we give you is primarily in Swedish. We can usually give you the same information and advice in English but this does depend on staff availability. Unfortunately, we cannot promise any other languages but please contact us and we will do our best to assist you.