Swedish word of the day: arbetsmiljö

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: arbetsmiljö
Arbetsmiljö: a word so Swedish it has its own public authority. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today's word of the day is a word so Swedish there's even a public authority dedicated to it.


The word arbetsmiljö (work environment) is as Swedish as meatballs with gravy and mashed potatoes. It's taken so seriously that the Swedes even have their own Work Environment Authority – Arbetsmiljöverket – responsible for ensuring that companies and employers follow government policy on work environment and work hours.


A safe arbetsmiljö covers everything from ensuring employers have taken steps to reduce risk of accidents or death in the workplace, making sure employees are offered desks, chairs and computer equipment to help them carry out their job in an ergonomically comfortable way without risk of injury, and even making sure they're offered a nap room.

Some workplaces will hire an ergonom (occupational therapist) as part of offering a good arbetsmiljö to help their employees with their posture and avoid muscle strain.

These rights are enshrined in law, protecting your rights to annual leave, parental leave, your working hours, and your right to a safe working environment.

Arbetsmiljö became especially important during the coronavirus pandemic, with discussions on how to secure a good working environment protecting pregnant employees, and to what extent your employer is responsible for providing a good working environment when working from home. We have also heard stories of Swedes bringing home their ergonomic desk chairs from the office on public transport at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure a good arbetsmiljö at home.


The importance of a good arbetsmiljö can also be seen in coverage of news events over the past few years. One example is the death of Swedish artist Lars Vilks in 2021, which the police reported to Arbetsmiljöverket as a workplace accident on behalf of the officers who died in the crash.

A more recent example from 2023 is the case of Club Kino, a strip club in Stockholm, being fined 6.1 million kronor after Arbetsmiljöverket found that making staff work nights was in violation of Swedish law.

Example sentences:

You're not contributing to a good working environment.

Du bidrar inte till en bra arbetsmiljö.

Remember to take breaks – it's a working environment issue.

Kom ihåg att ta pauser – det är en arbetsmiljöfråga.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.


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