The role of work environment representative

As a work environment representative (safety representative) you work to ensure that you and your colleagues are safe and healthy at work.

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Welcome to your exciting new role!

Well done! You’ve been elected work environment representative at your workplace. The role of a work environment representative is to ensure, together with your colleagues, that everyone stays safe and healthy in and outside work, because the work environment affects your health – both physically and mentally. You will be an important go-between for your colleagues in dialogue with the employer and the trade union. Many union representatives say that they find the role stimulating have learned a lot, and that being able to help improve things for everyone at work, big things as well as little ones, is a satisfying feeling.

As a Unionen elected representative, you will receive support and a wide range of courses and activities to equip you for your role.


Your role as a work environment representative involves

  • Representing your colleagues on work environment issues
  • Keeping an eye on the psychological, organisational and social work environment, which involves the interaction between you and your colleagues and your environment, e.g. stress and victimisation
  • Being alert to the physical work environment. This may concern lighting, ventilation, furnishings and noise, etc.
  • Holding regular meetings with your manager to discuss the work environment at your workplace
  • Participating in systematic work environment management, being involved in risk assessments and being on the workplace safety committee, if there is one
  • Requesting work environment measures in certain situations, and in extreme situations you can even stop work continuing

Get started in your role!

It is good to have a structure for work environment management right from the start. Start by thinking about what you want to achieve in your role. Then write a simple to-do list for how you want to organise the work. We’ve put together some useful and important tips for what it could contain here:

  • If there are no collaboration procedures already drawn up, contact your manager/employer and find out what work environment organisation is like at your workplace. You could suggest regular meetings to discuss the working environment.

  • Go on a course to get up to speed on your role.

  • Find out whether there is an occupational health service and what they can help you with.

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When there is more than one work environment representative at your workplace, you should appoint a chief work environment representative. If there are several unions represented at your workplace, there may be more than one chief work environment representative.

The employer is responsible for the work environment

As a work environment representative, you have an important role to play in ensuring that everyone in the workplace is safe and healthy at work. But you are also an important source of support for your employer, who always bears ultimate responsibility for ensuring a good work environment.

To perform your role well, you have the right to information and to see documents on changes that affect the work environment, such as reorganisation. You have the right to leave from your regular duties to perform your union role. If you need training on work environment issues, you are entitled to leave for training in paid working hours.

Find collaboration formats

If there is a Unionen club or one or more workplace representatives at your workplace, make sure to find good ways of working together. It makes sense to pursue issues regarding working hours, organisational development and skills development together.

If there are several work environment representatives/safety representatives, you should appoint one of you as chief work environment representative. Obviously, you will benefit from working together. It’s always easier when there are more of you to discuss issues, even if you might be from different unions.

You can work with your employer, the club, workplace representatives and other Union representatives to increase awareness of work environment issues. Dialogue and collaboration are a good basis for work environment management.

Skills development too!

The role of work environment representative or chief work environment representative isn’t just good for the workplace. It’s also good for you and your personal development. You gain access to courses that you can attend during paid working hours.

As the link between your employer and your colleagues, you gain practical experience and theoretical knowledge about work environment issues in your workplace. This can benefit you in your current job and in your future career. Unionen’s trade union advisors and your regional office will support you, ensuring that you are comfortable and secure in your role. It is also a useful experience to have on your CV.

E-course: Introduction for work environment representatives

In this e-course, you will get a short introduction in the role of a work environment representative. You will find out what is included in your role, which laws and regulations govern work environment management and what your rights and obligations are.

Course: Better work environment (BAM)

The course gives you basic knowledge of work environment issues as well as methods to systematically address the work environment at your workplace.

Mitt Uppdrag (My role)

Here you will find practical tools and checklists that will facilitate your role as elected representative. You need to log in.

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