Sunday, July 3

Agriculture, construction and hospitality, in the crosshairs of the Labor Inspection due to extreme heat

In the midst of a heat wave, in which thousands of people are working in extreme temperatures, the Ministry of Labor warns: the Inspection is carrying out actions to monitor the protection of workers, an obligation of companies. The Special Plan reported by the Ministry headed by Yolanda Díaz focuses on sectors most exposed to heat, such as agriculture and construction, as happened last year. But, in addition, on this occasion other sectors are added to the greater vigilance, among which two stand out: hospitality and industry. Non-compliance can be punished with fines of up to 983,736 euros in the most serious cases.

The climate crisis punishes Spain with heat waves that arrive earlier and earlier

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The surveillance of the labor authority has already begun. The Ministry of Labor reports that the Labor and Social Security Inspectorate has already begun to deploy “a series of specific actions within the Special Plan to protect workers against possible contingencies due to high temperatures”. These episodes of extreme heat are dangerous for health, as several studies and collect a recent report of the 1º de Mayo Foundation and ETUI.

The last week Spain has experienced another heat wave, after the one that occurred in May, which has raised the maximum above 40 degrees in various parts of the country in a new episode of extreme temperatures that are becoming more frequent and earlier. due to climate change. Carlos, a teacher at a school in Madrid, reported on Thursday to this medium the “insufferable” heat during classes with minors. “We are without air conditioning or awnings, with the sun beating down all day. It is infernally hot, the class is an oven”, lamented the teacher.

Sectors under the focus of the labor authority

The Ministry of Labor explains that the Special Plan focuses on some activities that are more exposed to high temperatures. “In the Autonomous Communities where there is an upturn in agricultural activity in the summer period, as for example occurs with harvesting campaigns, the activity to control the safety and health conditions of field workers will be intensified,” they indicate in the department. of Yolanda Díaz, where they recall that these actions “are added to the already usual control of the irregular economy and fraud in temporary hiring”.

In the construction sector, “particularly compliance with the planned shifts, according to the respective collective agreements,” reports Labor. This control fulfills a “dual purpose”: to supervise the working hours established by agreement and the moments of exposure to high temperatures. In a building rehabilitation work, in full sun after 1:00 p.m., Gustavo explained that his boss had allowed them to advance the intensive workday that is foreseen by agreement in the Community from July. “Many others are not doing anything, normal work is being done,” he said, “and after three o’clock it is impossible to work.”

In addition to these sectors, traditionally in the spotlight due to their exposure to high temperatures, the controls will be extended to “hospitality and industry and other activities carried out outdoors, such as gardening, waste collection or street cleaning, among others”.

The CCOO and UGT unions warned this week that exposure to high temperatures, without the necessary preventive measures, also occurs in Public Administrations. For example, in schools, many are not prepared for these high temperatures.

Fines of up to almost a million euros

Failure to comply with the business duty to protect the safety and health of workers can lead to serious or very serious infractions, depending on the case, recalls the Ministry of Labor. These infractions can carry fines ranging “from 2,451 euros to 49,180 euros for serious ones and from 49,181 euros to 983,736 euros for very serious ones.” Almost one million euros, the highest fine of labor infractions, which refers to cases of lack of prevention of occupational risks to workers.

Extreme heat can cause heat stroke resulting in death, as happened two years ago with a day laborer, Eleazar Blandón, who died of heat stroke after being abandoned at the gates of a health center in Lorca (Murcia). Not only that, but extreme temperatures worsen different pathologies, increase the risk of suffering a wide variety of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and increase the number of injuries in work accidents.

“We protect people because that is the first step to better protect the environment and our planet,” said Vice President Yolanda Díaz. The person in charge of Labor has indicated that the high temperatures constitute “a clear message about the consequences of climate change”, for which she has called for “all policies to be green”: “Accompany the fight against global warming, banish negationism and adopt solid and collective commitments”.

In addition to the actions, the Labor Inspectorate will send “more than 115,000 letters to hospitality, waste collection or outdoor work companies that will include information and technical documentation with measures to prevent heat stroke,” adds the Ministry . Work thus repeats the informative action that it already launched last summer.

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