Organisation, roles and responsibility relating to the work environment

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


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).


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 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.

The role of the safety representative

More information for logged in staff

There is more information for those of you working in the following groups

  • C1.Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology
  • C5.Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • C6.Institute of Environmental Medicine
  • C7.Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics
  • H1.Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society
  • H5.Department of Laboratory Medicine
  • H7.Department of Medicine, Huddinge
  • H9.Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology
  • K2.Department of Medicine, Solna
  • K8.Department of Clinical Neuroscience
  • UF.Professional Services
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