More than thirty degrees in the major French cities. Attention: this week there will be a heat wave to France between 15 and 19 June, Météo France alert. Whenever temperatures rise, the Ministry of Health reminds the French population of essential advice: hydrate regularly, keep cool, eat fruits and vegetables with water, wear loose clothing and light colors… Although this advice is aimed at individuals, It should also be remembered that employers have responsibilities towards their employees. What are the tips to follow and the rules to follow? We make an inventory.
Comply with legal obligations
The labor law states that: “the employer takes the necessary measures to ensure the safety and to protect the physical and mental health of the employees” (article L4121-1 to 5) and must in particular: “Consider the ‘thermal environments’ as part of its approach to assessing risks to workers’ health and safety.”
To protect employees, employers have several legal obligations to protect them from high temperatures, heat waves and heat waves: for example, since January 1, 1993 “New constructions intended to accommodate industrial premises must make it possible to adapt the temperature to the human body during work, taking into account the working methods and the physical limitations supported by the workers”, recalls a document from the Ministry of Health.
Sound the warning
For more than two years, companies have been mobilizing to inform their teams about health recommendations related to Covid-19. It’s the same for heat waves. In its document devoted to the heat wave, the Ministry of Health recalls that an employer must place a document on the premises of his company warning of expected weather conditions and “the risks of heat, the ways to avoid them and the first steps to take if an employee develops heat stroke”† Posters and leaflets are available free of charge and can be downloaded from the National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS) website.
Ventilate, aerate, monitor
If your premises allow it, it is imperative to ventilate and/or ventilate the premises at all times, but also to monitor the temperature during the day. If the thermometer is spinning too fast, make quick decisions to prevent a person from getting heat stroke. Also, make sure you provide your teams with continuous drinking water and fresh water, so your employees can stay well hydrated throughout the day.
According to certain occupations, especially the most physical or outdoor occupations, a heat wave can have a significant impact on the performance and/or health of the workforce. It is imperative to revise the rates downwards or to propose a reorganization of the schedule according to the period in which the heat wave continues.
Working in the morning, extending breaks, providing mechanical aids where possible…there are many solutions, depending on the profession. Also, don’t forget to communicate the new guidelines to your employees and reassure your teams about your requirements during this specific time frame.
Employers don’t necessarily have to be alert to the slightest sign of heatstroke from their employees. So to avoid unpleasant surprises, inform your teams about the symptoms (headaches, cramps, nausea, etc.) and encourage them to be vigilant and take care of each other. Of course, this advice also applies to society as a whole, outside the professional field.