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Breaks should be scheduled in hot workplaces: labor council

2012/07/10 21:06:45

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) Employers should allow proper rest time for workers in high-temperature environments in order to protect them from heat hazards, the Council of Labor Affairs said Tuesday, warning that violators could face fines of up to NT150,000 (US$5,006).

Government statistics show that the number of cases of heat-related illnesses such as exhaustion, heat stroke, cramps and fainting usually increase between July and September every year.

To prevent health problems associated with high-temperature conditions, the government has established standards to regulate work distribution and rest breaks, said Fuh Hwan-ran, head of the council's Department of Labor Safety and Health.

The high-temperature indoor environments mentioned in the regulations include boiler rooms, furnaces, steel foundries and glass plants, Fuh said.

Based on Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index, which is used to measure heat threats, employees in conditions of extreme heat should take a 45-minute break every 15 minutes. Those that work in conditions of moderate heat should have a 30-minute rest in every half hour and those in mildly hot work environments should have a 15-minute break every 45 minutes, the council said.

Fuh said employers should assess the work environment and make provisions such as sufficient drinking water, shift schedules and proper rest breaks.

Employers are also advised to provide cool areas for their workers during rest breaks, he said.

The labor council said it has written a complete guide for employees, based on international standards, to prevent heat hazards that could affect the health of workers.

Meanwhile, the council said media reports that it is considering work suspension and office closures during high temperature was inaccurate. Temperature in Taiwan hit a high of 38.3 degrees Celsius Tuesday noon.

(By Zoe Wei and Nell Shen)
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