18 Jul 2023, 13:49
Benjamin Wehrmann

German workers should adopt ‘siesta’ break to escape extreme heat, public health officers say


Public health officers in Germany have proposed to introduce a midday break akin to the Spanish ‘siesta’ to protect workers during the hottest hours of the day, media network RND reported. “We should take the approach to work common in southern countries when it comes to heat: getting up early, being productive in the morning and taking a siesta around midday is a concept we should adopt in the summer months,” Johannes Nießen, the head of the Federal Association of Physicians of German Public Health Departments (BVÖGD), told RND. Extreme heat is reducing productivity and concentration levels, which could be countered by shifting more complex tasks to the morning hours and ensuring sufficient ventilation and drinks at the workplace. Relaxing the office dress code could additionally help by allowing people to wear lighter clothes on hot days, Nießen added. Anja Piel, board member at the German Trade Union Association (DGB), told RND that employers should generally consider heat risk assessments for their workers. “Risk assessments still are not the standard in companies – a shortcoming that is completely inacceptable, giving climate change and extreme summers,” Piel said, adding that it made a significant difference whether people work in an office, a warehouse or on a construction site.

Climate change leads to an increasing number of extremely warm days and higher heat peaks in Germany and many other European countries. While climate action measures so far have focused on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to higher average temperatures, extreme weather events and other consequences of climate change increasingly shifts into the focus across Europe.  

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