What is the working environment?
The working environment concerns the conditions at the workplace, or, in the case of students, the conditions at the location where we study, i.e. the University. In order for everyone to get on well at the University and not be affected by ill-health, it is important to have a good working environment. When we speak of the working environment, we usually distinguish between the physical and psychosocial working environments.
Nowadays, there is legislation and regulations that control the physical working environment, so workplaces have become less dangerous as regards risks to physical health. But problems can still arise at modern workplaces and universities and these may threaten the physical health of those spending time there. If, for example, the following occur at your workplace, this may constitute a working environment problem:
- Poor ventilation
- Broken doors, furniture or lamps
- Wet or untidy floors and premises
- Dangerous chemicals
- Unsuitable working postures
- Dangerous routes to and from the university
It is, therefore, important to guard against dangerous or unsuitable elements and locations in the study and working environments at the university. Certain risks cannot be entirely eliminated, but it is then important that there are good instructions that mean that dangerous situations can be dealt with in a safe manner.
They psychosocial working environment concerns working conditions that create risks to physical health. This involves, for example, wellbeing and leadership. It also involves how relationships are between the people spending time at the workplace. The psychosocial working environment is difficult to explain and “touch” so it is also more difficult to regulate than the physical working environment. It is, nevertheless, very important. The fact is that many illnesses that are related to work and study today are due to stress. There are many different factors that could constitute a threat to mental health for students at the university. The following could also constitute a risk to mental ill-health:
- Working under pressure
- Too much or too little to do
- A lack of clarity about working duties
- Unclear requirements
- Influence on the personal study situation
- The relationship between students and staff
How things are for us at the workplace affects our health. There may also be individual problems to deal with in a workplace, but, overall, it is also the whole that affects our wellbeing. There is one overarching purpose in bringing attention to how the working environment looks. This is to ensure that work and studies are adapted to people’s conditions, needs and abilities - not the other way round.
It is the Work Environment Act (SFS 1977:1160) that regulates work in the area of the working environment. The wording of the act begins with the purpose for which the Act actually exists: “The purpose of the Act is to prevent ill-health and accidents at work and also to achieve a good working environment”.
Responsibility for the working environment rests with the employer (i.e. the University). For the students, there are working environment representatives (safety representatives). These work together with the University to resolve various working environment related problems.
Last updated: 2012-06-27