In recent months, Europe experienced several waves of very cold weather with extremely low temperatures. Several European affiliates urged the responsible Ministries for construction and forest, as well as employers, to re-organize the work and processing. The Trade Union of Workers in Construction and Building Materials of Serbia, SGIGMS, reports on its activities to protect its members.
For Sasa Torlakovic, president of the SGIGMS: “Enormously low temperatures are very difficult to tolerate, and workers have psychological and physical problems, so exposure to low temperatures, with the possible presence of the wind, makes this work unbearable. This is why our Union took action to raise the issue and develop ideas and recommendations to the employers with the aim of better protection of our members and construction workers in Serbia”.
In the building materials industry like bauxite goods, brick and cement production, very low temperatures slow down the work, workers are temporary disabled, and in some cases have a reduction in their salaries.
The Directorate for Safety and Health at Work of Serbia has drafted the proposal on Good Practice Guidelines on Outdoor Work in Low Temperature Weather Conditions. The Guidelines contain responsive recommendations for employers and workers related to:
organization of work in conditions of low temperatures
training employees for safe and healthy work in low temperature conditions
means and equipment for personal protection at work in terms of the conditions to be fulfilled when working outdoors and at low temperatures
measures to prevent the health problems of employees.
In a conference, organised by SGIGMS, held on 22 December 2017, in the CRH Factory in Popovac in Serbia, shop stewards and members of the Health and safety Committees discussed the proposed draft and made recommendations:
Fully protect workers from drastic temperature changes when moving from a high temperature zone (30 to 40 °C) next to the furnace, into a cold zone at a temperature of - 20 °C
During night shift, when the temperature drops from hour to hour, introduce additional protection mechanisms in the form of long warm-up breaks
Recommend employers to stop with the production when the temperature falls below - 10 C or give the worker the opportunity to stop working without material and other consequences.