FRANCE: Assessment of health risks related to night work

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The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses) was consulted to assess the health risks for workers exposed to atypical working hours, especially night work, whether regular or not.

The collective expert report that it published recently highlights proven risks of sleep disorders, metabolic disorders, and probable risks of cancer, cardiovascular disorders and mental disorders in the workers concerned. Surveys on working conditions carried out on employees working night hours generally point to more prevalent factors of physically painful conditions and work stress.

In its conclusions, the Agency considers that the use of night work can be justified for situations requiring that services of social utility be ensured, or for business continuity. However, it recommends that night work organization methods be optimized in order to minimize the impacts on employees’ working life and personal life. It emphasizes that anything that reduces the desynchronization of biological rhythms and the sleep debt is in principle favourable. Precise organizational recommendations, on which there is not always a scientific consensus, should also be studied collectively in the appropriate labour relations bodies. The results of this expert appraisal should shed useful light on these discussions, and also on discussions concerning the government bill aimed at establishing new freedoms and new protections for enterprises and workers currently undergoing examination in parliament.

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Position and report (in French)

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