France: New measures to tackle workplace risks
Arduous working conditions and the harmful effects of electronic devices are among problems dealt with recently by occupational health and safety measures in France.
New occupational health and safety measures
Health and Safety Committee
The French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) has issued a ruling that all companies with 50 or more employees must have a Health and Safety Committee (CHSCT). In the case of a company with branches which individually each have fewer than 50 members of staff, the court recommends setting up a central CHSCT to cover all the company’s employees. French labour law already stipulates that there must be a Health and Safety Committee in premises employing at least 50 people.
Arduous working conditions
From 2015, all employers must report any difficult working conditions faced by their employees. New legislation outlines four risk factors (in French) that must be reported from March 2015. They are:
- night work;
- work in constantly changing teams;
- repetitive tasks;
- work in an environment with high levels of physical pressure.
An additional six factors will be added from 2016. From 2017, companies reporting any exposure to these risk factors will have to pay a general fine and make contributions relating to specific factors.
The national agency for the improvement of working conditions (Anact) and the University of Quebec have published a guide to help employers prevent psychosocial risks in the workplace. The guide, based on the experience of 12 companies, is intended to help evaluate risks and encourage social dialogue on this issue.
The Ministry of Labour has announced that measures against burn-out (in French) will be included in the framework of the Health and Safety plan due in early summer 2015 (in French). It has also set up a working group on this issue. The Computing and Consultancy Managers' Union (Fieci CFE-CGC) which is affiliated to the General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff-French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff (CGE-CGC) has set up an on-line test for workers to evaluate the risk of burn-out (in French).
The Observatory of Corporate Social Responsibility (ORSE) has published guidelines for companies to reduce the harmful effects of workplace electronic communication device use (in French).
2013 report on working conditions
The Ministry of Labour published its annual report on working conditions (in French, 6.9 MB PDF) in January. The report contains data on occupational diseases and work injuries, and on the activities of different public bodies in charge of working conditions. It focuses on:
- the reform of the occupational health services (médecine du travail) (in French);
- the prevention of chemical-related risks and hyperbaric risks;
- ‘intelligent’ personal protective equipment.
The report also says that, after 20 years of decline, the number of occupational health departments (service de santé au travail) increased by 22% between 2012 and 2014. The number of occupational medical officers, however, continues to fall: -10% between 2011 and 2012; -4% from 2012 to 2013; and -5% between 2013 and 2014.