Working environment organisations within enterprises

There must be health and safety cooperation at all enterprises. This cooperation must help to ensure that employees work under conditions which are as good and as safe as possible. This makes it possible to retain employees in the industry throughout a long working life while also maintaining good quality of life.

All enterprises with ten or more employees must have a working environment organisation.

The working environment organisation may have representatives of both employees and the management.

In enterprises with working environment organisations, a discussion must take place every year on how cooperation on the working environment is working and on working environment plans for the year to come.

Composition of the working environment organisation

The number of members and working environment teams in the working environment organisation are established in cooperation with the employees and supervisors on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity. There must be at least the same number of working environment representatives as supervisors within the working environment organisation.

The supervisors within the working environment organisation must have the necessary knowledge of the enterprise’s production and different work areas.
It is necessary to ensure that all employees can come into contact with their working environment representatives within employees’ working hours, and employees must be able to discuss working environment conditions with the working environment organisation within employees’ working hours.

All employees – including part time employees – who are not business managers or supervisors are included in the determination of the number of people employed. Therefore, this applies to all staff who work full time or part time on building sites or other alternating/temporary places of work outside the enterprise’s permanent place of work.

People who have been employed to work on a specific building site and who will be working only there are not normally included in the number of employees in the home enterprise. If they carry on to a new building site, they will be counted as of this time.

Working environment work in enterprises with one to nine employees

Enterprises with one to nine employees are not obliged to create a working environment organisation. However, the employer has to ensure that health and safety cooperation takes place in direct contact and dialogue between the employer, supervisors and other employees.
In enterprises without a working environment organisation, discussion must take place every year on how cooperation on the working environment is working and on working environment plans for the year to come. It is also necessary to discuss whether the necessary specialist knowledge on the working environment is present within the enterprise.

In enterprises without a working environment organisation, the employer must ensure that employees receive all necessary information on health and safety. Employees must also be involved in the planning and introduction of new technology and on the consequences for health and safety of the selection of equipment, personal protective equipment and technical aids, etc.

However, on building sites there is an obligation to create a working environment organisation if five or more people are employed by the same employer over a period of more than 14 days.

Working environment organisations in enterprises with ten to 34 employees

In enterprises with ten to 34 employees, it is necessary to establish a working environment organisation which consists of supervisors and selected working environment representatives, and with the employer or business manager as a foreman.

The working environment organisation must carry out both strategic – general – tasks and operational – daily – tasks.

Working environment organisations in enterpriseswith more than 35 employees

Enterprises with 35 or more employees must have a working environment organisation established with:

  • one or more several working environment teams and
  • one or more working environment committees.

A working environment team consists of one supervisor and one working environment representative.
A working environment committee consists of supervisors and working environment representatives from one or more working environment teams, with the employer or the business manager as the foreman.

Working environment committees within enterprises

The working environment committee consists of the members of the working environment teams. If there are more than two working environment teams, the working environment representatives choose two members between themselves, and the supervisors in the working environment teams choose two members for the working environment committee between them. The employer or business manager takes over the role of foreman.

The members of the working environment committee and their deputies are elected for two years. Enterprises may enter into agreements on working environment representative election times of a maximum of four years.

The working environment committee has to plan, manage and coordinate health and safety work within the enterprise, including the work of the working environment team, and carry out the annual working environment discussion.

The committee also has to advise the employer on resolution of working environment issues and of how the working environment can be integrated into the enterprise’s strategic management and day to day operations. The committee must help to establish the size of the working environment organisation and provide advice on the enterprise’s skills development plan.

The committee checks working environment work and has to ensure that the working environment teams are notified about the working environment and given guidance on it.
The committee has to take part in preparation of the enterprise’s place of work assessment.
Once a year, the working environment committee has to prepare a collective summary of accidents, poisonings and health damage within the enterprise.

Furthermore, the committee has to set up principles for training and instruction which are adapted to suit the working conditions at the enterprise and the needs of employees.

A plan must be compiled concerning the structure of the working environment organisation, with information on members, and employees must be informed of the plan.

If members of the working environment organisation are not present, the members present within the enterprise or at the place of work will select the necessary working environment arrangements. This must then be reported to the members of the working environment organisation as quickly as possible.

At the annual discussion, the working environment committee must decide on the form of cooperation for the committee and the number of annual meetings.

Tasks of the working environment team

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The working environment team deals with day to day working environment tasks within the part of the enterprise or the building site covered by the working environment team.

The working environment team has to participate in the planning of health and safety work and the preparation of the place of work assessment.

The team must check that the working conditions are entirely correct in terms of the working environment, and whether effective training and instruction in the languages spoken and understood by employees is given. Use an interpreter if necessary
The team also has to take part in the examination of accidents, poisonings and damage to health, or near-accidents, etc.

It is also important for the working environment team to regularly inspire other employees to behave in a way which promotes good working environment practice.

The working environment team forms the point of contact between the employees and the working environment committee and therefore has to pass on working environment queries to the working environment committee, unless the working environment team is able to resolve the problems itself.

If a supervisor and working environment representative are not present at the same time, the member present takes over the tasks of the working environment team. Arrangements which are organised in the absence of the other must be reported to the absent party as soon as possible.

If there is no time to contact the foreman of the working environment committee or the management team for the enterprise, the working environment team may stop work or the work process on its own initiative when there is a considerable risk to employees’ safety or health.

If work is stopped, the working environment team must immediately contact the management team for the enterprise and explain why it was necessary to stop the work.

Meetings of the working environment organisation within the enterprise
Besides the annual working environment discussion, the working environment team and the working environment committee will hold meetings as required so that it is possible to carry out the tasks assigned to the team and the committee.

The working environment committee will normally hold meetings if serious accidents, damage to health or near-accidents and damage take place.
Tasks of the working environment committee within the enterprise
The working environment committee has to plan, manage and coordinate health and safety work within the enterprise, including the work of the working environment team.

The job of the working environment committee is to ensure systematic working environment work. This may include, for example:

● A working environment policy with a clear objective for working environment work.

● Clear working environment requirements for both employees and subcontractors.

● Examining and charting any accidents.

● The annual working environment discussion.

On agreement, the employer and employees can opt to arrange the working environment organisation differently. However, this assumes that there is also an agreement at organisation level.
Receiving culture
Irrespective of the size of the enterprise, a plan ought to be compiled with regard to how new employees are received, including trainees, young people and foreigners who are not yet aware of the rules, practices and procedures applicable on the building site.

It is necessary to ensure that they do not place themselves or others in danger on account of ignorance, but that they learn good safety culture and procedures right from the outset.