Safety delegates' chores of increasing importance

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Heavy lifts and heavy physical work are still serious working environment problems
The Swedish Work Environment Authority recently announced that the number of safety delegates has decreased drastically.

- This is not true as to the LO safety delegates. The number is relatively stable. In 2006, there were, on average, 22 members per safety delegate within the LO national unions, says Ulla Lindqvist, LO Second Vice President.

A few days ago, the LO report “Co-operation for a better working environment – safety delegates’ work and experiences” was published. In this recurrent report LO has, with the assistance of Statistics Sweden, reviewed the preconditions of safety delegates. 5 000 out of the LO 70 000 safety delegates were interviewed.

The review shows that the LO safety delegates have served their purpose. The safety delegates’ work is appreciated and necessary. The work environment problems are nowadays dealt with in a more structural way, which is a positive sign.

- Thanks to the unions we have many competent safety delegates. The safety delegates’ work is only one of the reasons for being a union member, Ulla Lindqvist says.

The employer has the responsibility for the working environment at the place of work. It is therefore significant that the employers regard the safety delegates as a resource and support. It is therefore alarming that every third safety delegate states that they often get involved too late in various processes of change.

The regional safety delegates are often the only ones who have contacts with small enterprises in issues concerning the working environment. The large increase of the number of small enterprises puts a pressure on allotting more resources to the activities of the regional safety delegates.

The members of the LO affiliates still have professions where heavy lifts are of frequent occurrence. Heavy lifts and physical heavy work are therefore the main working environment problems.

Safety delegates need training to fulfil their work tasks. Working life is constantly changing. Safety delegates therefore want training in social and psycho-social issues in the first place. The reason for this is the rapid pace in working life, where less people do more work, and correct planning and well-functioning teams are necessary.

- Safety delegates demand, above all, continuous training. It is therefore remarkable and unacceptable that the Government has withdrawn the resources for such training, Ulla Lindqvist says.

At places of work with many temporary employment contracts, part-time employment and leased staff, every fifth safety delegate states that their work is being made more difficult.