What is the effect of heat wave on productivity?

Workers are under stress and productivity has been affected as the mercury regularly crosses 30 degrees for the last three days.

«The heat of the climate can be so high that the body will be completely powerless in it. For then, remediation will go into the mind; No curiosity, no great enterprise, no generous spirit; All orientations will be inactive; Laziness will bring happiness there.» The heat wave that affects the country should not alter the customs of the French to the point of making it a true geographical determinism as theorized by Montesquieu in the spirit of the law. But this will lead to a reduction in productivity as labor unions are tested.

above 25 degrees, productivity loss

« From 24-25 degrees, physiological studies show that it is too hot to work at a normal pace», explains Catherine Saget, a researcher at the International Labor Organization (ILO) and co-author of a 2019 study on the effects of heat stress on work productivity. In addition, productivity losses are more or less significant according to the activity concerned: businesses requiring physical investment are most affected. In the construction sector, productivity losses range between 30 and 40% around 30 °C, and reach 100% when the mercury rises to 40 °C.

As far as office workers who do not have access to air conditioning, productivity loss, although small, remains significant. Despite the paucity of recent studies on the subject, the University of Helsinki attempted a synthesis in 2006 to bring together 24 existing studies on call centers. On average, productivity losses are observed in rooms from 6 to 10% at 30 degrees, from 12 to 21% at 35 degrees. Specifically, voice flow and employees’ ability to chain calls were measured. The study also notes that the ideal temperature in the premises to work in is 21.75 degrees!

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take into account the feelings of employees

The National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS), specializing in research on occupational health, also notes that, “Above 30 °C for sedentary activity, and 28 °C for work requiring physical activity, heat can pose a risk to employees.However, the French labor code explicitly does not allow one to work face-to-face because of the heat. With a subtlety, since the employer needs to avoid “extreme temperature rises» In the premises of the company. and in case of non-compliance, “serious and imminent danger» For the employee, the latter can claim the right of withdrawal.

For its part, INRS generates a list of advice. To avoid fatigue, headaches and dehydration, it is advisable to specifically optimize working hours, so as not to be exposed to the hottest hours for outdoor jobs, and to take more breaks, preferably in cooler places. “Companies should take into account the subjective traits of employees, their feelingsAdds CNPMT, president of the Association of Occupational Practitioners, Gerard Lucas. You have to trust your employees and accept that not everyone has the same resistance to heat.»

billions for the economy

These events of climate stress come at the cost of the economy. The ILO estimates that in 2030, 2.2% of the world’s working hours will be lost to the effects of heat stress, reinforced by a less predictable 1.5 degree increase in global average temperature, climate experts said. The loss would be twice that of 1995 and would be equivalent to destroying an economy the size of the United Kingdom each year. Developed countries are rarely affected, but the study states that if “The rise in temperature is not expected to have significant consequences for the productivity of workers in the region, may increase extreme weather events.».

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

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