France: Government issues Updated Health Protocol for Workspaces
The Ministry of Labour published an amended version of the “national protocol to ensure the health and safety of employees in businesses” on 25 November 2021. The document takes into account, the new measures announced by the government, including, in particular, reduction of the validity period of virus tests to obtain the “health pass” and the compulsory wearing of masks indoors. In addition, it emphasises the ventilation of workplaces and the measurement of carbon dioxide levels.
France is experiencing a fifth wave of the Covid pandemic. The government has imposed new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. This is the case in particular with the wearing of masks, which was made compulsory once again “everywhere indoors”, including in places subject to the health pass.
These new rules are integrated into the latest version of the company health protocol. In addition to the wearing of masks, the document takes into account the new validity period of antigenic and PCR tests for obtaining the health pass, now reduced from 72 to 24 hours.
Ventilation and CO2 measurement
In addition, the updated version of the protocol emphasises the ventilation of workplaces. Considering that “the control of air quality and the ventilation of closed spaces is an essential measure for the prevention of aerosol risk situations”, the document recommends that natural ventilation should be ensured: “doors and/or windows should be permanently open or, failing that, at least 5 minutes every hour”. Failing that, ventilation should be provided “by a mechanical ventilation system that complies with the regulations, is in good working order and has been checked”.
The protocol now explicitly recommends the use of carbon dioxide detectors: “It is recommended that measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air be taken at significant points of use and at periods of high use.”
“Any CO2 measurement above a threshold of 800 ppm should lead to action in terms of ventilation/air renewal and/or reduction of the number of people admitted to the room. Above 1,000 ppm, evacuation of the room must be proposed while sufficient ventilation is provided to restore CO2 levels below 800 ppm,” explains the protocol.
Social events and collective catering
Workplace social events, which were allowed to be organised subject to compliance with the social distancing and health measures, are no longer recommended. However, if such events are organised, in addition to ventilation, a distance of two metres between people is required “when the mask is removed”.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Ventilation must be ensured, CO2 detectors should be installed, and workplace social events are to be discouraged.