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EU: unions call for directive on maximum working temperatures

Through . Published on 25 July 2022 à 11h54 - Update on 25 July 2022 à 11h54

After two workers died of heatstroke in Spain last week, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has today – on Monday 25 July – called on the European Commission to impose a maximum temperature limit for work, by means of a directive. “Workers are on the frontline of the climate crisis every day and they need protections to match the ever-increasing danger from extreme temperatures,” says Claes-Mikael Ståhl, deputy general secretary of ETUC. “The weather doesn’t respect national borders which is why we need Europe-wide legislation on maximum working temperatures,” he adds. In 2018, in the face of worsening climate change, ETUC adopted a resolution on the need for EU action to protect workers from high temperatures. According to the World Health Organization, the ideal temperature for working is between 16°C and 24°C. Another study meanwhile shows that when the temperature exceeds 30°C, the risk of workplace accidents goes up by between 5% and 7%, while above 38°C, the probability of accidents increases by 10% to 15%. However, a Eurofound survey shows that 23% of workers across the EU are exposed to high temperatures, rising to 36% in agriculture and industry and 38% in the construction sector. To date, only a few European countries have legislation to protect workers during heat waves. This is the case in Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Spain.

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