With summer now almost in full swing, labour inspection officer Evangelitsa Tsoulofta has reminded employers of their responsibilities regarding working in hot weather.
Speaking on Thursday, she said that rising temperatures and relative humidity expose workers to potentially serious health issues. Such issues more frequently impact those who work at construction sites or other outdoor workplaces.
Tsoulofta said that there have been no incidents of heatstroke in the workplace in Cyprus in recent years, but that she had received complaints from the public regarding non-compliance with related laws.
She said that temperatures and conditions during the summer must be recorded by employers and self-employed people to ensure compliance with the regulations.
There is a sliding scale of temperatures and humidity rates beyond 39 degrees, with work legally required to cease should the temperature and humidity rate both be high enough. The sliding scale also depends on the manual demands of each job.
Office work and cleaning, for example, are seen as “light work”, while roles such as bricklaying, painting, or plastering are seen as “moderate”. “Heavy” work includes things like digging and laying roads.
Tsoulofta said that the part of the year which creates the most problems regarding heat is around the end of July and the beginning of August, but that conditions can be hot and humid enough to warrant the enforcement of these regulations as late as September.
She called on employers “to organise working hours so that heavy work is carried out during the cooler hours of the day”, and said that employees should be allowed frequent short breaks for rest in a shaded, cool place or properly air-conditioned area.
She added that all workers should be provided with cool drinking water and appropriate headgear. In addition, she said that workers themselves should wear light, loose clothing and sunglasses, avoid eating large meals or sugary foods, or drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks while working.