This page describes the role, rights and obligations of the safety representative.
Local safety representatives operate within a defined area, called a safety area, which can be organisationally and/or geographically specified. Chief safety representatives (CSR) must be appointed in workplaces where more than one safety representative works. The task is to coordinate the activities of the safety representatives. The CSR is authorised to represent the safety representatives in matters relating to the work environment in several safety areas. The CSR also has the right to appeal decisions by the Swedish Work Environment Authority or the Swedish National Board of Housing. Student safety representatives (for post-secondary education) are responsible for monitoring the work environment in school settings. Students are considered workers in the Swedish Work Environment Act (WEA). Student safety representatives have in principle the same rights and powers as other safety representatives, but they do not have the right to interrupt work.
CSR Karolinska University Hospital
CSR KI Campus Flemingsberg
CSR KI Campus Solna
Who can become a safety representative?
"A person with insight and interest in health and safety issues should be appointed as a safety representative. Safety representatives should have a good knowledge of the working conditions in their area of protection." "In workplaces with several departments, safety representatives should be appointed for each department or group of departments with similar work." 6 § Work Environment Ordinance (AMF).
In workplaces where at least five people are regularly employed, safety representatives should be appointed. Safety representatives are elected for a mandate period of three years, and the mandate period is uniform throughout Karolinska Institutet (KI). At KI we have an established procedure for how safety representatives are appointed: Go to webpage https://staff.ki.se/safety-representatives-at-ki
At KI you do not need to be a member of the union.
This is regulated in collective agreements between employers and employee organisations. A safety representative at KI must also be employed by KI in order to represent the employees within KI's organisation. This is regulated in the Work Environment Act (WEA). The safety representative's rights only apply from the day the employer has been informed of the election.
The employer's responsibility
"The employer shall systematically plan, manage and control the activities in such a way that the working environment fulfils the prescribed requirements for a good working environment." Chapter 3. 2a § WEA. It is always the employer who has the main responsibility for the work environment. The safety representative has no work environment responsibility beyond the basic responsibility that all employees have. Nor is it the safety representative's task to remedy any work environment problems - that is the employer's task. However, the safety representative, as well as other employees, can be involved in addressing deficiencies/risks in co-operation with the employer. In this case, the safety representative must be given the resources, financial and time, required to be able to do this.
The Swedish Work Environment Authority (SWEA)
SWEA is a state authority for work environment and working time issues. SWEA decides on regulations/provisions ("AFSs") including general minimum requirements on how work environment and working time issues should be handled. SWEA has five regions that conduct inspection activities (supervision) to assess compliance with laws and regulations in workplaces. Safety representatives have the right to contact SWEA for advice and to request the authority to intervene and consider whether an injunction or prohibition should be issued.
The safety officer's tasks, according to Chapter 6. 4 § WEA
- The safety representative represents the employees in work environment issues and shall promote a satisfactory work environment.
- The safety representative shall, within his or her area of protection, monitor protection against ill health and accidents, and ensure that the employer fulfils the requirements of Chapter 3, Section 2a of the WEA, i.e. that the employer carries out systematic work environment management at the workplace.
- The safety representative shall point out deficiencies in the work environment to the employer.
- The safety representative shall participate in the preparation of action plans (after e.g. safety rounds and employee surveys).
- The safety representative shall participate in the planning of new or modified premises, equipment, work processes, work methods and work organisation, as well as in other planning that is important from a work environment point of view, e.g. handling of substances that can cause ill health/accidents.
- The safety representative must consult with the employer when reporting* incidents and occupational injuries and ensure that the employer investigates occupational injuries.
Safety representative's rights** according to chapter 6. 4-7 §§ and 10 § AML, 8 § AMF
- The safety representative is entitled to the necessary training.
- The safety representative is entitled to the leave required for the assignment. During the leave, the safety representative may retain salary and other employment benefits. The safety representative and the employer should agree on the amount of time to be spent on ongoing safety work.
- The safety representative shall be informed by the employer of any changes of significance to the working environment conditions in the representative's area.
- The safety representative has the right to examine the documents and obtain the information needed for the representative's activities.
- The safety representative has the right to request the investigations and/or measures needed to achieve a satisfactory working environment and to receive, on request, written confirmation that the employer has received this request. If the request is not taken into account within a reasonable time, the safety representative can report this to the SWEA (so-called 6 6a petition).
- The safety representative can request that the KI Work Environment Committee deal with a work environment issue.
- At least one safety representative must be represented in the safety committee (at KI it is the main safety representatives).
- Safety representatives shall be represented in the department's work environment group or equivalent (according to KI's local work environment agreement).
- The safety representative has the right to request safety rounds or other examination and control of the work environment conditions within the protection area, and to participate in these.
- The safety representative has the right to interrupt the work if there is an immediate and serious danger to the life or health of the workers. Individual work may also be interrupted if it is necessary from a safety point of view. If time permits, the safety representative must first contact the employer for consultation and request immediate action. In case of disagreement, the safety representative has the right to suspend the work pending the position of the Swedish Work Environment Authority. The safety representative's suspension is valid until the Swedish Work Environment Authority has taken a position or until the safety representative who issued the suspension revokes it.
- The safety representative has the right to receive written communications from AV.
- Safety representatives may not be prevented from fulfilling their duties.
- The safety representative may not be given less favourable working or employment conditions because of his or her duties.
- The safety representative is covered by Förtroendemannalagen (provided that the safety representative is unionised).
The safety representative's obligations under chapter 7, section 13 of the WEA
The safety representative has an obligation to consider parts of the confidentiality legislation. This means that confidential information may not be disclosed other than to a member of the trade union board or an expert in work environment issues in the trade union organisation of which the safety representative is a member, provided that the safety representative has been informed of the confidentiality. The safety representative may never disclose information concerning an individual person unless that person has consented to it.
* Social Insurance Code, Section 10 Regulation (1977:284) on occupational injury insurance and state personal injury protection.
**The rights of the safety representative only apply from the date on which the employer has been notified of the election.