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Sweden. Working Environment
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SWEDEN

Act No. 677/91, of 30 May 1991, amending the Working Environment Act (No. 1160 of 1977).
          
(Svensk författningssamling, 17 June 1991, No. 677, pp. 115.)

[Editor's Note: This Act amends and consolidates the basic Act which was published in the former Legislative Series under the symbol 1977Swe.4.]


In accordance with the decision of Parliament, the Working Environment Act (No. 1160 of 1977) shall be amended as follows:


CHAPTER 1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE ACT

Section 1. The purpose of this Act shall be:

Section 2. Subject to the restrictions under section 4, this Act shall apply to every activity in which an employee works on behalf of an employer.

Provisions concerning the obligations to be discharged in certain respects by persons other than employers and employees are contained in Chapters 3 and 5.

Section 3. The following persons shall be considered employees for the purposes of Chapter 2, Chapter 3, sections 113, Chapter 4, sections 15 and 810, and Chapters 79:

The students and inmates referred to in clauses 1 and 2 of the first paragraph of this section shall also be considered employees for the purposes of Chapter 5, sections 1 and 3. Further provisions concerning students are to be found in Chapter 6, sections 17 and 18.

In cases covered by the first and second clauses of this section, the provisions of this Act relating to employers shall apply to persons carrying on the activity for which the work is performed.

Section 4. This Act shall not apply to:

Section 5. Notwithstanding this Act, the Government, or such administrative authority as the Government may designate for the purpose, may issue special regulations for the overall national defence.


CHAPTER 2. STATE OF THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT

Section 1. Working conditions shall conform to people's different physical and mental aptitudes.

Employees shall be given opportunities to participate in the design of their own working situations and in changes and developments relating to their work.

Technology, work organisation, and work content shall be designed in such a way that employees are not exposed to physical or physiological constraints that might give rise to illness or accidents. Such consideration shall also be given to forms of remuneration and arrangement of working time. Closely controlled or constrained work shall be avoided or restricted.

An effort shall be made to ensure that work provides opportunities for variety, social contacts, cooperation and continuity among individual work tasks.

An effort shall further be made to attain working conditions that provide opportunities for personal and occupational development as well as for exercising selfdetermination and occupational responsibility.

Section 2. Work shall be planned and arranged in such a way that it can be performed in a healthy and safe environment.

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

Section 4. Air, noise, light and other occupational health conditions shall be satisfactory.

Adequate protective measures shall be taken to avoid injuries that may result from falling or collapsing objects, fire, explosion, electric current and the like.

Section 5. Machines, tools and other technical equipment shall be constructed, located and used in such a way as to ensure adequate safeguards against illness and accidents.

Section 6. Substances that can cause illness or accidents shall be used only in conditions ensuring adequate safety.

Section 7. Personal protective equipment shall be used where adequate protection against illness or accidents cannot be attained in any other way. Such equipment shall be provided by the employer.

Section 8. Premises and equipment for personal hygiene, meals, rest and first aid in the event of accidents or illness shall be provided to the extent appropriate for the nature of the work and the requirements of the employees.

Personal transport vehicles shall be appropriate for their purpose.

Section 9. Special provisions for the design and construction of buildings are contained in the Planning and Building Act (No. 10 of 1987) and the regulations made thereunder.

Section 10. Special provisions on working time are contained in the Hours of Work Act (No. 673 of 1982)1 and the regulations made thereunder.

Chapter 5, section 5 of this Act contains special provisions respecting working time for young workers.


CHAPTER 3. GENERAL OBLIGATIONS

Section 1. Employers and employees shall cooperate in attaining a good working environment.

Section 2. An employer shall take all necessary measures to prevent his employees from being exposed to illness or accidents. Premises, machines, tools and protective and other technical equipment shall be properly maintained.

If the working conditions so require, the employer shall make arrangements for an occupational health service to the extent required by the activity.

An employer shall have regard for the special risk of illness and accidents that can result from employees working alone.

Section 2a. An employer shall systematically plan, direct and control activities in such a way that the working environment fulfils the requirements of this Act and the regulations issued thereunder. The employer shall investigate occupational injuries, continuously examine the risks involved in the activities and take suitable action in this respect. Action that cannot be taken at once shall be scheduled over a period of time.

To the extent of his activities, an employer shall maintain records concerning the working environment and related matters. Plans of action shall be established.

Furthermore, an employer shall ensure that the workplace for his activities has appropriately organised work adjustment and rehabilitation activities in order to fulfil the requirements of this Act and those under Chapter 22 of the Public Insurance Act (No. 381 of 1962).2

Section 3. An employer shall ensure that his employees acquire a sound knowledge of the conditions in which the work is performed and are informed of the risks that may be connected with their work. The employer shall satisfy himself that the employees have the necessary training and know what measures they must take for the avoidance of risks.

An employer shall, by adapting working conditions or other appropriate measures, take into consideration the aptitude of the employees for the work. In the planning and organisation of the work, due regard shall be had for the fact that human beings vary in their aptitude for the performance of the tasks involved.

Section 4. An employee shall cooperate in the formulation of measures to improve the working environment and shall participate in the implementation of the measures that are necessary to achieve a good working environment. He shall comply with the relevant regulations, use the protective equipment provided and in other respects exercise the necessary caution to prevent illness and accidents.

If an employee considers that work involves an immediate and serious danger to life or health, he shall notify the employer or the safety delegate as soon as possible. An employee shall not be liable to compensate for any damage resulting from his nonperformance of work pending a decision on its resumption.

Section 5. Where work is done by an employer himself, the provisions of this Act and the regulations made thereunder shall be observed insofar as they are relevant. The foregoing shall also apply where two or more persons jointly carry on gainful activity without employing employees, but not if the activity is carried on solely by members of the same family.

Any person carrying on gainful activity either alone or jointly with a member of his family without employing employees shall comply with the provisions of this Act and the regulations made thereunder regarding technical equipment and substances liable to cause illness or accidents, and regarding jointly operated workplaces.

Section 6. Where two or more persons simultaneously carry on an activity in the same workplace, they shall consult each other and work together to achieve satisfactory safety conditions.

Section 7. Any person carrying out building or construction operations shall be responsible for coordinating the precautions taken against illness and accidents at any jointly operated workplace where such activities are carried on. Where a permanent site is a workplace common to two or more forms of activity, similar responsibility shall rest with the person controlling the workplace. Responsibility for such coordination may be delegated to one of the persons conducting operations at the workplace.

Where there are jointly operated workplaces other than those covered by the first paragraph of this section, the persons conducting operations there may agree that one of them is to be responsible for such coordination.

The person responsible for the purposes of this section shall ensure that the protective measures at the workplace are coordinated. The other employer or employers and the employees working at the workplace shall comply with any instructions given by him for this purpose.

Section 8. Any person manufacturing, importing, transferring or supplying any machine, tool or protective or other technical equipment shall ensure that it affords adequate safeguards against illness and accidents when it is delivered for use or displayed for sale or advertisement.

Information that is important for the prevention of illness and accidents (product information) shall be provided upon delivery by clear labelling or in some other way. Information that is of special importance for the working environment shall be provided when the equipment is marketed.

Section 9. Any person manufacturing, importing or transferring any substance liable to cause illness or accidents shall take the necessary measures to prevent or counteract any safety hazard inherent in its intended use.

The provisions of the second paragraph of section 8 respecting product and marketing information shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to substances liable to cause illness or accidents.

Section 10. Any person transferring or supplying a packed product shall ensure that the packaging does not cause illness or accidents.

Section 11. Any person installing technical equipment shall ensure that the necessary protective devices are fitted and that any other requisite safety measures are taken.

Section 12. Sections 8 and 9 of Chapter 7 provide for responsibility in respect of safety in certain cases for persons controlling workplaces or leasing premises, land or underground premises for purposes of work or for use as staff facilities.

Section 13. Any person carrying out building or construction operations shall ensure that both the building process and the future use of the building take into account work environment considerations and that the various stages of the planning are coordinated. Any person manufacturing prefabricated buildings or constructions shall similarly ensure that work environment considerations are taken into account in the plans.

Architects, designers and other participants in the planning process shall ensure, within the framework of their assigned tasks, that work environment considerations are taken into account.


CHAPTER 4. AUTHORISATION

Section 1. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations prescribing:

Section 2. If necessary in order to prevent illness or accident at work, the Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations prescribing that:

Regulations regarding authorisation or approval made under the previous paragraph may also stipulate that product information shall be supplied or that certain conditions shall apply to manufacturing and postmanufacturing controls. Such regulations may also provide that authorisation or approval shall be subject to certain utilisation conditions. Furthermore, the regulations referred to under clause 2 of paragraph 1 may also prescribe the requirements for obtaining authorisation or approval.

Section 3. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations prescribing that:

Regulations regarding the installation of technical equipment may be provided for in the same manner.

Section 4. If it is particularly important from the standpoint of safety, the Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may prohibit the use of any process, working method, technical equipment or substances that may cause illness or accidents.

Section 5. If a type of work involves a risk of illness or accidents, the Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations requiring that persons who are employed on the work in question, or who are about to be employed on it, shall be given a medical examination or inoculation or other preventive treatment against infection. Regulations may also be made prohibiting admission to such work of any person who has been found in a medical examination to be suffering from any disease or weakness making him particularly susceptible to such risk.

Section 6. Where any particular type of work involves a special risk for certain categories of employees, the Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations prohibiting employees belonging to such categories from being employed on such work or prescribing special conditions that shall apply where they are employed on it.

Section 7. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations prescribing, in connection with the medical examinations ordered under section 5 or 6, that a register shall be kept recording the names of the persons examined and the results of their examinations.

Section 8. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations prescribing that a report shall be made, or information provided to a supervisory authority or that documents shall be kept that are of importance for safety.

Section 9. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting on a decision of the Government, may make regulations requiring medical practitioners to submit reports to the supervisory authority on any illness which may be connected with work and to furnish the supervisory authority with explanations and assistance.

Section 10. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting on a decision of the Government, may make further regulations on the working environment and general obligations respecting the working environment that are required in order to prevent illness and accidents at work.


CHAPTER 5. YOUNG PERSONS

Section 1. For the purposes of this Act the expression "young person" means a person who has not yet reached the age of 18 years.

Section 2. A young person shall not be engaged as an employee or otherwise to perform work before the calendar year of his 16th birthday or before the completion of his compulsory schooling.

Nothwithstanding the first paragraph, a young person who has reached the age of 13 years may be employed for light work which is not likely to prejudice his health, development or schooling.

The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make further regulations respecting other exceptions under the first paragraph concerning the employment of a young person who has not reached the age of 13. Such exceptions may only be granted for very light work and only if not granting the exception would lead to special and important problems for the application of the Act.

The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting on a decision of the Government, may make further regulations concerning work under the second and third paragraphs of this section.

Section 3. A young person shall not be engaged to perform work that may involve a risk of accident or overstrain or any other harmful effect on the young person's health or development.

The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting on a decision of the Government, may make regulations setting out conditions for the employment of young persons in work that involves a substantial risk of accidents, overstrain or any other harmful effect on their health, or prohibiting such employment.

Section 4. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may make regulations, with reference to medical examinations ordered pursuant to the fourth paragraph of section 2 or the second paragraph of section 3, prescribing that a register be maintained recording the names of the persons examined and the results of their examinations.

Section 5. The Government, or the Workers' Protection Board acting upon a decision of the Government, may prescribe regulations respecting the duration and arrangement of working hours for young persons who are employed to perform work.


CHAPTER 6. COOPERATION BETWEEN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES

Section 1. Employers and employees shall carry out suitably organised work environment activities.

Section 2. At a workplace where at least five employees are regularly employed, one or more safety delegates shall be appointed from among them. A safety delegate shall also be appointed at any other workplace if the working conditions so require. Substitutes shall be appointed for such safety delegates.

A safety delegate shall be appointed by the local employees' organisation that is bound, or is normally bound, by a collective agreement in relation to the employer. Where there is no such organisation, the safety delegate shall be appointed by the employees.

In the case of a workplace where no safety committee has been appointed under section 8, the local branch of a trade union or any comparable association of employees may appoint a safety delegate from outside the group of employees at the workplace (regional safety delegate). The right to select a regional safety delegate shall only apply to branches or associations that have members at the workplace.

Section 3. Where there is more than one safety delegate at any workplace, one of them shall be appointed to act as the chief safety delegate with the task of coordinating the safety delegates' activities.

Section 4. A safety delegate shall represent the employees in work environment questions and shall endeavour to achieve a satisfactory working environment. For this purpose he shall, within his sphere of competence, monitor the protective measures taken against illness and accidents and ensure that the employer fulfils his obligations under section 2a of Chapter 3.

The safety delegate shall participate in the planning of new or changed premises, arrangements, work processes, working methods, and of work organisation, and in planning the use of substances liable to cause illness or accidents. In addition, safety delegates shall participate in the establishment of plans of action referred to under section 2a of Chapter 3.

The employer shall notify the safety delegate of changes that are of importance for the conditions of the work environment in the delegate's sphere of competence.

The employer and employees shall be jointly responsible for ensuring that a safety delegate receives the necessary training.

Section 5. A safety delegate covered by the second paragraph of section 2 shall have the right to the necessary time off for his duties. He shall retain his employment benefits during that time.

Section 6. A safety delegate shall be entitled to have access to such documents and to receive such other information as he needs for his activities in that capacity.

Section 6a. If a safety delegate considers that certain actions are needed in order to obtain a satisfactory working environment he shall approach the employer with a request that he take such action. The safety delegate may also request that a particular investigation be carried out for the inspection of conditions within the safety delegate's sphere of competence. The employer shall, upon receiving the representation, immediately provide the safety delegate with written confirmation that he has received the request. The employer shall, without undue delay, provide a response to the request. If he does not consider the request within a reasonable period of time, the Labour Inspection Service shall, upon representation by the safety delegate, consider whether an order or prohibition shall be issued under section 7 of Chapter 7.

In cases where a safety committee exists, the safety delegate may directly call upon the committee to consider the working environment question.

Section 7. Where a particular type of work involves immediate and serious danger to an employee's life or health and no solution can immediately be found through representation to the employer, the safety delegate may order the work to be suspended, pending a ruling by the Labour Inspection Service.

Where safety considerations so require and no solution can immediately be found through a representation to the employer, a safety delegate may order work done by an employee alone to be suspended, pending a ruling by the Labour Inspection Service.

In the event of any failure to comply with a prohibition imposed by the supervisory authority which has acquired legal force or which requires immediate compliance pursuant to an order made under section 5 of Chapter 9, a safety delegate may order work to which the prohibition relates to be suspended.

A safety delegate shall not be liable to compensate for any prejudice resulting from action taken under this section.

Section 8. At every workplace where 50 or more persons are regularly employed, there shall be a safety committee consisting of representatives of the employer and the employees. A safety committee shall also be appointed at a workplace with a lesser number of employees if the employees themselves so request.

The employees' representatives shall be appointed from among the employees by the local employees' organisation that is bound, or is normally bound, by a collective agreement in relation to the employer. Where there is no such organisation, the representatives shall be appointed by the employees.

Section 9. A safety committee shall participate in the planning of activities related to the working environment at the workplace and shall monitor implementation of these activities. It shall closely follow developments in questions relating to protection against illness and accidents and shall endeavour to achieve satisfactory working conditions. The following questions shall be dealt with by the safety committees:

Section 10. A safety delegate shall not be obstructed in the performance of his duties.

A safety delegate shall not suffer any prejudice to his working conditions or conditions of employment on account of his duties in that capacity. Where he ceases to perform such duties, he shall be assured of working conditions and conditions of employment corresponding or equivalent to those to which he would have been entitled if he had not performed such duties.

Section 11. Where an employer or an employee contravenes the provisions of section 10, he shall be required to compensate for any prejudice sustained as a result. In determining whether prejudice has been sustained and, if so, to what extent, account shall also be taken of circumstances other than those of a purely financial nature. If it is reasonable to do so, having regard to the extent of the prejudice or any other circumstances, the amount of the compensation may be reduced or waived in its entirety.

Where two or more persons are responsible for the prejudice, liability shall be apportioned among them in a reasonable manner, having regard to the circumstances.

Section 12. Any person wishing to claim compensation under section 11 shall notify the other party of his claim within four months after the prejudice was sustained. Where negotiations in connection with the claim have been requested within that period under the Act (No. 580 of 1976) respecting codetermination at work3 or in virtue of a collective agreement, an action shall be brought within four months after the negotiations are concluded. In all other cases the action shall be brought within eight months after the prejudice was sustained.

The first paragraph of this section shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to claims in respect of conditions of employment under section 5.

Where the provisions of the first or second paragraph of this section are not complied with, the right of action shall be lost.

Section 13. Cases relating to the application of sections 10 and 11 shall be dealt with in accordance with the Act (No. 371 of 1974) on the judicial procedure to be followed in labour disputes.4 Any action brought against an employee shall be subject to the general rules of judicial procedure.

Section 14. Sections 47 and 1013 shall apply to an employer if he has been notified of the appointment of a safety delegate by the organisation or the employees making the appointment or, where the employer has not been accessible, if notice of the appointment has been sent to the workplace by the organisation or the employees.

Section 15. The provisions of sections 5 and 1014 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to members of safety committees.

Section 16. The Act (No. 358 of 1974) respecting the status of trade union representatives at workplaces5 shall also apply to safety delegates and members of safety committees appointed by an organisation covered by the second or third paragraph of section 2. However, the foregoing shall not apply insofar as the rights of such delegates or members under this Chapter would thereby be restricted.

Section 17. Persons undergoing training shall be given the opportunity by the chief person responsible for the training, through student safety delegates, to participate in safety activities at the workplace, provided that this can be justified taking into account the type and duration of the training.

However, such participation does not apply to students below the seventh grade of compulsory schooling or corresponding levels of youth education.

Section 18. A student safety delegate shall be appointed by the students.

The chief person responsible for the training shall ensure that student safety delegates are provided with the necessary training and time off to perform their duties.

Student safety delegates are entitled to receive the information needed in order to perform their duties with the exception of information that is subject to the confidentiality provisions under the first paragraph of section 13 in Chapter 7. The Secrecy Act (No. 100 of 1980) shall apply with respect to information in the public sector that is subject to secrecy.


CHAPTER 7. SUPERVISION

Section 1. Supervision of compliance with this Act and the regulations made thereunder shall be exercised by the Workers' Protection Board and, under its superintendence and direction, by the Labour Inspection Service.

In the case of warships, compliance with this Act shall be supervised by the National Administration of Shipping and Navigation. Other references in this Act to the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health and the Labour Inspection Service shall, in the case of warships, be interpreted to mean the National Administration of Shipping and Navigation.

Section 2. [Repealed by Act No. 55 of 1986.]

Section 3. A supervisory authority shall have the right, upon request, to receive such information, documents and samples and to order such investigations as are required for supervision under this Act.

Section 4. Any person who, in the course of his activity, uses a particular product or has ordered any other person to carry out a particular type of work shall, if so requested by the supervisory authority, is obliged to disclose the identity of the person supplying the product or carrying out the work.

Whoever transfers or supplies technical equipment or transfers substances that may cause illness or accidents shall be obliged, if so requested by the supervisory authority, to disclose all available information about the person to whom the product has been transferred or supplied.

Section 5. For the purposes of the supervision exercised in accordance with this Act, a supervisory authority shall have access to any workplace and may carry out investigations and take samples in that workplace. No compensation shall be payable for any samples taken.

It shall be the duty of the police authorities to provide any assistance required for the exercise of supervision under this Act.

The Government or the Workers' Protection Board acting by decision of the Government may make regulations requiring the payment of reasonable compensation to a supervisory authority for any expenses incurred in connection with the taking and examination of samples.

Section 6. If no person at a jointly operated workplace is responsible for coordination under section 7 of Chapter 3, the Labour Inspection Service may designate a person to have such responsibility. Where there are special reasons for doing so, the Labour Inspection Service may decide that responsibility is to be vested in some person other than the person responsible in accordance with the above section.

For the purposes of the first paragraph, responsibility for coordination shall be vested in the person carrying out the building or construction operations in the jointly operated workplace or in one of the persons carrying out activities there.

Section 7. The Labour Inspection Service, in relation to any person who is responsible for protective measures under the terms of sections 211 and section 13 of Chapter 3, the first paragraph of section 3 of Chapter 5, or section 6 under this Chapter may issue such orders or impose such prohibitions as may be necessary to ensure compliance with this Act or the regulations made thereunder.

In any decision issuing an order or imposing a prohibition, the Labour Inspection Service may make provision for a fine.

If any person fails to take a measure that he has been ordered to take, the Labour Inspection Service may order remedial action to be taken at his expense.

If an order has been issued in connection with any measures for which a building, demolition or land permit is required under the Planning and Building Act (No. 10 of 1987) and the permit is refused, the order shall lapse in so far as such measures are concerned.

Section 8. Where the conditions at any workplace are such as to involve a risk of illness or accident for any person working there, the Labour Inspection Service may, in relation to the person controlling the workplace, issue an order or impose a prohibition under section 7, even where that person is not the employer of the person exposed to the risk.

Section 9. If any defect from the safety standpoint is present in any premises, land or underground premises leased for purposes of work or for use as staff facilities, the Labour Inspection Service may impose a prohibition under section 7 of such a lease until specified measures have been taken with respect to such premises, land, or underground premises.

The Labour Inspection Service under section 7 can impose on the person who leases premises, land or underground premises for work or for use as staff facilities, an order for the examination of safety conditions at such a place.

Section 10. Decisions in connection with the measures referred to under sections 69 may also be taken by the Workers' Protection Board.

Section 11. To ensure compliance with a prohibition imposed in accordance with sections 79, a supervisory authority may decide that the plant, premises or equipment is to be sealed or otherwise shut off. Arrangements for the enforcement of the decision shall be made by the authority.

Section 12. The Government may direct that special charges shall be made in connection with matters covered by this Act.

Section 13. A person who has been appointed as a safety delegate or member of a safety committee or has participated in adjustment or rehabilitation activities at the workplace under this Act may not improperly disclose or make improper use of any trade secret, method of work, business matter, individual circumstances or circumstances affecting national defence that has come to his knowledge in the course of his duties or in his official capacity.

A safety delegate or member of a safety committee who has been appointed by a local employees' organisation under sections 2 and 8 of Chapter 6, notwithstanding the obligation under the first paragraph not to divulge confidential matters, may disclose information to a member of the organisation's board or to an expert in work environment questions of a central workers' organisation to which the local organisation belongs. The right to disclose information shall only be valid if the person giving the information also informs the recipient of the information about the obligation not to divulge confidential matters. In such a case the obligation not to divulge confidential matters shall also apply to the recipient.

In the place of paragraphs 1 and 2, sections 7, 9 and 10 of the Secrecy Act (No. 100 of 1980) shall apply to workplaces in the public sector.


CHAPTER 8. PENALTIES

Sections 14. [Penalties for noncompliance with this Act.]


CHAPTER 9. APPEALS

Sections 15. [Process for appeals of decisions made under the Act.]

This Act shall enter into force on 1 July 1991.



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