Sleeping in the middle of the day when it’s hot: medical officers advocate siestas like in southern Europe

Sleep in the middle of the day when it’s hot
Public health officers advocate a siesta like in southern Europe

Heat waves will occur more frequently in summer in Germany due to climate change. The medical officers are therefore calling for adjustments in working life: Among other things, employees should rest at noon – but start earlier in the morning. The trade unions also see employers as having a duty to act.

In view of the high temperatures, medical officers have called for the introduction of a siesta working method based on southern Europe in Germany. “When it’s hot, we should be guided by the way southern countries work: getting up early, working productively in the morning and taking a siesta at noon is a concept that we should adopt in the summer months,” said the chairman of the Federal Association of Physicians in the Public Health Service ( BVÖGD), Johannes Nießen, the editorial network Germany (RND).

“People aren’t as efficient as usual when it’s very hot. Poor sleep without cooling down at night also leads to concentration problems.” The physician added: “Complex work requirements should therefore be postponed until the early hours of the morning. In addition, sufficient fans and lighter clothing are required, even if the dress code in the office does not allow this.”

It is also important to drink a lot more and eat light food in several smaller portions. “A cold footbath under the desk would be another way to cool down in the home office,” added Nießen.

DGB calls for more air showers

The German trade union federation called on employers to regularly prepare heat risk assessments during the summer months to ensure occupational safety during high temperatures. “Employers must protect their employees from the heat – working in the heat is stressful for employees and, in the worst case, endangers their health. Risk assessments are the basis for tailor-made protection,” said board member Anja Piel to the RND.

“Hazard assessments are still not a standard in companies – an omission by employers that is completely unacceptable in the face of climate change and extremely hot summers.” Piel also called for offices to be closed where the temperature is over 35 degrees and for air showers to be purchased. “It is no longer possible to work in rooms with over 35 degrees – unless the employer offers aids such as air showers and heat breaks. If employers do not fulfill their obligation to protect against heat, this does not mean, however, that employees can simply go home, only that work is no longer allowed in certain rooms,” she added.

The trade unionist insisted on cooling and sun protection measures from a temperature of 26 degrees. “Even at over 26 degrees, the employer has to cool down. If the thermometer climbs to over 30 degrees, employers have to reduce stress,” she said, listing: “Rules for the flexible distribution of working hours so that work can be done in cooler hours of the day . In the office, effective sun protection is also part of it – for example, that blinds remain open at night and the ventilation runs at night. Measures such as removing heat sources such as printers and copiers from work rooms, a relaxed dress code and the provision of drinks help in hot weather.”

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