Organisation, roles and responsibility relating to the work environment
In the current decision-making and delegation scheme, the Vice-Chancellor has delegated work environment tasks to the Heads of Department. Each Head of Department shall therefore fulfil the duties of an employer within their area of responsibility and in accordance with the Swedish Work Environment Act and its provisions. The Vice-Chancellor has also assigned decision-making authority to the Heads of Department as required by these duties. Duties relating to the work environment can and should be delegated to those persons (e.g. managers/leaders) who in practice are in a position to maintain an overview of and deal with activities from an organisational and economic perspective.
Work environment groups
Each Department (or equivalent) has a work environment group that works with local work environment issues. The work environment group is a resource for the Head of Department and is made up of representatives from the different areas of activity, including both employees and employers, and the safety representative/student safety representative and equal opportunities representatives. The tasks of the work environment group are e.g. to initiate and monitor safety inspections, provide a link between the Department and the Work Environment Committee, between the Department and the occupational healthcare service and between the Department and Student Health Center. The work environment group also carries out annual monitoring of the Department’s SAM (systematic work environment management).
Responsibility for the work environment is governed by the Swedish Work Environment Act (1977:1160). The purpose of this Act is to prevent occupational illness and accidents and to otherwise ensure a good work environment.
The Head of Department as an employer shall ensure within his/her area that the requirements and intentions in the Swedish Work Environment Act with provisions and instructions are met, and shall ensure compliance with local work environment agreements and KI’s Work environment and health guidelines
The Swedish Work Environment Act applies to all persons at Karolinska Institutet, irrespective of whether they are a student or an employee. Scholars are in education and are therefore governed by the Act. Certain parts of the work environment responsibility are specified below.
Employers and employees shall cooperate (chapter 6 of the Act) in order to provide a good work environment. This is provided for with the work environment groups at the Departments and with the Work Environment Committee at KI. The Departments have safety representatives. The activities of the safety representatives are coordinated by the main safety representative.
The importance of a good work environment is particularly highlighted in chapter 8 of the Act, Sanctions. This chapter governs sanctions, fines or imprisonment for failure to comply with the Act.
The Work Environment Committee
The task of the Work Environment Committee is to act as the safety committee for Karolinska Institutet, pursuant to chapter 6 sections 8-9 of the Swedish Work Environment Act. Document no. 285/09-204 relating to issues such as:
- current legislation governing work environment
- cooperation with occupational healthcare service
- safety in the laboratories
- organisational and social work environment
- information and training related to work environment
- work adaptations and rehabilitation activities
Mandate period: 1 January 2019 - 31 December 2021
Linda Munirji, main student safety representative, Dental Students’ Association (OF)
Åsa Samuelsson Ökmengil, the Doctoral Students’ Ombudsperson (MF)
Patrik Emanuelsson, Preventive health care coordinator
Pia Stenberg, HR specialist
Johan Lindberg, work environment engineer, Previa
Johanna Haag, customer representative, Previa
Linda Murphy, occupational health nurse, Studenthälsan
Margareta Bratt Carlström, HR Office
The role of the employee
The Swedish Work Environment Act states that: “The employee must participate in work relating to the work environment and take part in the implementation of the measures needed to create a good work environment. The employee must comply with directions issued, use the safety equipment and exercise the caution otherwise needed to prevent illness and accidents”.
Employers and employees shall cooperate in order to provide a good work environment. The organisation of such cooperation is governed by KI’s local work environment agreement. The employees elect safety representatives via the local employee organisation (trade unions).
The role of the manager
One of the most important tasks assigned to a manager is to ensure that all employees have the expertise required to perform their job and achieve development at work, but also the expertise to prevent the risk of illness and accidents at work.
Supervisors and colleagues shall have the expertise, resources and authorisation required to assume their responsibility for ensuring performance of tasks. The role of manager also comprises a duty to cooperate with colleagues pursuant to the Swedish Work Environment Act.
Managers and leaders are delegated work environment tasks by the Head of Department/equivalent.
Role of the safety representative
Being elected safety representative is one of the most important statements of confidence you can have from your colleagues. The tasks of the safety representative are to monitor protection against illness and accidents at work, and to ensure that the employer is in compliance with the Swedish Work Environment Act’s requirements for systematic work environment measures.
The safety representative shall, for example, notify the employer of deficiencies in the work environment, be notified by the employer of significant changes in work environment conditions within the area of safety and take part in creating action plans (e.g. after safety inspections, employee surveys and other risk assessments).
Elect and announce a safety representative
The elected safety representative shall be a person with insight into and an interest in the work environment. The employees at the workplace elect their safety representative, i.e. who is to represent them on issues involving the work environment. Subsequently, the trade unions (OFR, SACO and Seko) formally appoint the safety representative. At Karolinska Institutet, only persons associated with a trade union can be elected as safety representative, pursuant to a decision jointly reached by the trade union organisations.
The announcement of the safety representative shall be made on a specific form submitted to the main safety representative, who administers the form and notifies the employer (KI). Please note that the person elected cannot legally act in the role of safety representative until the employer has registered the safety representative. In order to make this clear, the main safety representative sends a written confirmation to the safety representative when he/she has been elected and registered by the employer.
Main safety representative
When there are several safety representatives at a workplace, one of them shall be elected main safety representative. The tasks of this person are to coordinate the activities of the safety representatives and to represent the safety representatives in certain issues. The main safety representative has activities that comprise the entire workplace and shall, for example, work with issues involving more than one safety area.
Basic training for safety representatives
A two-day course in basic work related to the work environment is provided on a regular basis, once per semester, by KI. This includes:
- The role of the employer and of the safety representative
- KI’s work environment measures and work environment organisation
- Systematic work environment management
- Legislation, regulations and agreements
- Parties involved in work environment issues
- Physical, organisational and social work environment
- Information on literature
Training for safety representatives can also be provided via the trade union organisation to which the safety representative belongs or via e.g. Arbetsmiljöforum (work environment forum).
Safety representatives in Sweden have their own website administered by the magazine Du&jobbet.
Safety representative for students
The students are also entitled to elect persons to represent them on issues involving the work environment: the student safety representative and the doctoral student ombudsman. The Medical Students' Union and the Student union of Odontology elects two representatives to represent the students on the Work Environment Committee. For more information, please contact the Medical Students’ Union or the Student union of Odontology.
Information on current safety representatives at KI is kept by Moa Borg (HR-Department) or by the main safety representative.