The Work Environment Act states that the employer has the primary responsibility for the work environment at the workplace. The work environment work that the employer/management is to carry out is to be preventive to ensure that no employees suffer ill health as a result of their work. The employer must take all known steps necessary to prevent employees from being at risk of ill health or accidents. The employer's/management's work environment work is to be conducted systematically, meaning that it should take place regularly and be followed up annually.
The employer's work environment work consists of two parts:
Annual review – the health and safety committees:
- Identify any problems/risks that exist in the work environment.
- Assess the problems/risks.
- Deal with the problems/risks.
- Check that the problems/risks have been resolved.
If the problems/risks have not been resolved, steps 1-4 are to be repeated until a solution has been implemented. For any problems/risks that the employer cannot remedy directly, an action plan is to be drawn up.
The process described above needs to be conducted at several levels in the organisation. If there are health and safety committees at more than one level, i.e. both local and central, results of the reviews that are only conducted at the local level must be reported to the central level. The final overall review of the entire organisation’s activities is then compiled by the central health and safety committee. In order to be able to carry out their work and build a fair picture, the various health and safety committees must receive information from all parts of the organisation for which they are responsible.
In the annual review of the work environment, the following documents can be used for analysis of the organisation:
- Follow-up of the previous year’s review.
- Information from the local level about what has come up at unit or department level in the continuous workplace dialogues and in the staff’s individual development dialogues.
- Information from workplace meetings and similar.
- Information from health and safety/IT health and safety inspections.
- Signals about situations/problems during the past year.
- Analysis carried out in the event of changes during the year; any risk/impact assessments conducted.
- Results of work environment surveys conducted during the period.
- Statistics on sick leave, both short-term and long-term.
All available data is analysed. What conclusions can be drawn from the status of the organisation? What new measures need to be taken to improve the work environment and prevent future problems?
You can read more about systematic work environment work here.
One way to prevent work environment problems is to have policies, guidelines and routines that all employees follow. These documents are to be prepared in collaboration with the employees at the workplace and be negotiated with the local trade unions. The documents need to have the support and commitment of the staff and be known to everyone in the organisation in order to work. In order to be and remain effective, most of them need to be living documents to a large extent.
Documents and routines that should/must exist at a workplace:
- Work environment policy
- Guidelines for the systematic work environment work
- Guidelines for measures against offensive or unequal treatment
- Guidelines for measures against sexual harassment, bullying and other discrimination
- Drugs/alcohol policy
- Crisis management plan
- Routines/documents for health and safety inspections/ IT health and safety inspections
- Routines regarding IT availability
- Routines regarding changes to existing and procurement of new digital tools.