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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: arbetsmiljö

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

the word arbetsmiljö on a black background with swedish flag
Arbetsmiljö: a word so Swedish it has its own public authority. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

The word arbetsmiljö (work environment) is as Swedish as meatballs with gravy and mashed potatoes. It’s taken so seriously here 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, to 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. Some workplaces will even 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 even 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 even 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 recent news events. One example is the death of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, which the police reported to Arbetsmiljöverket as a workplace accident on behalf of the officers who died in the crash. Another is the Gothenburg explosion in September, where firefighters took precautions before entering the building to ensure that they would be working in a good arbetsmiljö – minimising risk of injury in the rescue operation.

Examples

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 now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv 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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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Love them or hate them, foppatofflor are unexpectedly coming back in to fashion. But what are they, and how did they get their Swedish name?

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Foppatoffla – foppatofflor in plural – is the Swedish term for Crocs – plastic sandals or clogs which first became popular in the early 2000s.

The word foppatoffla is made up of two words. The first is foppa, which is the nickname of one of Sweden’s most successful ice hockey players, Peter Forsberg. The second half of the word is toffla, the Swedish word for “sandal”.

Foppatofflor, the Swedish term for Crocs. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix/TT

So, what does a famous Swedish ice hockey player have to do with plastic clogs?

The story begins in the early 2000s, when Forsberg was recovering from a foot injury sustained playing professional ice hockey. When looking for a shoe comfortable enough for him to wear without exacerbating his injury, he came across Crocs, which were designed to be comfortable and ergonomic.

Recognising the shoes’ potential, Forsberg became an early investor, securing the sole rights to distribute Crocs in Sweden through his company Forspro. But Forsberg didn’t just invest in the shoes, he also appeared in adverts for them, leading Swedes to start referring to the shoes as foppatofflor.

By 2010, sales of foppatofflor were dwindling, so Forsberg shut down Forspro to focus on other investments – but not before the name had stuck.

Peter “Foppa” Forsberg. The man you can thank (or despise) for introducing Crocs to Sweden. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The shoes are still popular as ergonomic and hygienic work shoes, particularly in the healthcare sector, although they were briefly banned in some Swedish hospitals on suspicion of causing a build-up of static electricity which disrupted hospital machinery.

They may also be coming back into fashion, gracing the Oscars red carpet and the Instagram feeds of musicians such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams in the last few years.

So, love them or hate them, foppatofflor seem to be here to stay. Now you know what word to use if you decide to pick up a pair for yourself this summer.

Example sentences:

Jag har precis köpt nya foppatofflor till barnen – de är ju så praktiska!

I’ve just bought new Crocs for the kids – they’re so practical!

Gud, är foppatofflor verkligen trendiga nu? Bra att jag har kvar mina från 00-talet!

God, are Crocs really trendy now? Good job I kept mine from the noughties!

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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