France - National protocol to ensure the health and safety of workers in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic
In an opinion published on August 14 the High Council of Public Health (HCSP) recommended systematic wearing of masks in all public and collective private enclosed premises. However, considering the diversity of organisations and working environments and the geographical differences in spread of the virus, the Government examined exceptions and adaptations that could be made to the general principle. The new national protocol specifies two cases which may be subject to an exemption from the wearing of a mask:
• When the employee works alone in his office;
• In the workshop, as workers are often required to perform more intense physical efforts, provided that the ventilation conditions comply with the regulations, that the number of people in the work area is limited, and that these people respect the greatest possible distance between them and wear a visor.
The notice also allows a relaxation in the case of shared offices, in particular open space: Workers at the workstation may temporarily remove the mask if a certain number of criteria are fulfilled.
The ministry is still discussing along with social partners the measures for activities that would prove incompatible with wearing a mask (for example, for oral interventions or public speaking for a limited time in confined spaces respecting certain measures).
Companies are encouraged, within the framework of social dialogue, to specify the terms of application of the protocol and to take into account specific business situations.
This protocol replaces the national deconfinement protocol and will be gradually implemented in companies.
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