Phoenix Passes Ordinance to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

Phoenix Passes Ordinance to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

The action follows a year of record-breaking heat and heat-related deaths in the city.

A new ordinance relating to heat stress protections has unanimously passed in Phoenix, marking the culminating of a campaign that involved various labor and community organizations. It aims to provide essential protections for workers employed by city contractors who are exposed to extreme heat. 

“This ordinance is a critical first step toward getting workers lifesaving protections and holding employers accountable for safety during heat season,” said Katelyn Parady, a Phoenix-based worker health and safety expert with the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “It’s also a model for how local governments can leverage their contracts to protect the workers who keep their communities running from climate change dangers.”

Among the most notable points regarding heat stress and its impact on workers is the disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. People of color and low-income workers endure the most heat-related risks. But Latinx workers are three times more likely to succumb to heat stress than other workers.

Under the new rules, contractors and subcontractors providing services to the city—such as construction and airport operations—must ensure workers have access to water, rest, shade and safety training. The regulation also mandates that contractors provide air conditioning in vehicles with enclosed cabs.

In 2023, the city of Phoenix experienced a record-breaking 31 consecutive days with temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit, a heat which accounted for 340 heat-related deaths city-wide.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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