Occupational Health in France: role, recipients, and organisation

In France, the Services de Prévention et de Santé au Travail (SPST) have specific responsibilities, which comply with the health and safety obligation provided for in the Labour Code.  These are:

  • safeguarding employees’ health at work,
  • preventing any deterioration in the health of employees as a result of their work,
  • supporting employers, workers, and their representatives in the prevention of occupational risk.

SPST services are organised around multidisciplinary occupational health and prevention teams (OHPS), which comprise occupational doctors, nurses, occupational risk prevention workers, and assistants. 

These teams advise employers, workers, and their representatives on various health-related measures, including improving quality of life and working conditions (also taking into account the health implications of working from home) and preventing the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

The teams will further advise on how to prevent issues like sexual harassment and bullying at work, as well as conducting analysis on the health and safety impacts of major organisational change.

What activities might an OHPS team carry out in the workplace?

They may organise various vaccination and screening campaigns, or arrange company events that raise awareness of the benefits of health-boosting activities, like organised sport or exercise.

The occupational doctor has free access to the workplace, and may carry out visits – such as for employee health screening – on their own initiative, as well as by request from the employer or social and economic committee (CSE).  

Under the Labour Code, all private companies are required to organise or join an occupational health and safety service.

All employees are obliged to undergo medical monitoring, including permanent, fixed-term, and temporary staff, as well as those taking part in apprenticeship schemes.  However, the obligation does not apply to young people on school or university work placements.

Depending on the size of the company, occupational health and prevention services may be provided by an internal company health service, or a Service de Prévention et de Santé au Travail Interentreprises (SPSTI): an inter-company health service.

If the number of employees monitored is fewer than 500, membership of an SPSTI is compulsory.  If the number is higher, the employer (and/or CSE) may choose between setting up an independent service or joining an SPSTI. 

Do you have questions about occupational health services in France?

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