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Arizona Shouldn’t Follow Texas’s Anti-Water-Break Actions

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on July 30, 2023

Construction Contractors building a big new home

Texas eliminated mandated water breaks for construction workers by passing House Bill 2127. The bill was approved by the legislature, signed by the governor, and will go into effect on September 1, 2023.

This new law eliminates local ordinances, affecting businesses throughout the state, including those that established minimum breaks in the workplace. It nullifies the ordinances enacted by Dallas and Austin that mandate 10-minute breaks every four hours, allowing construction workers to drink water, and preempts a similar ordinance in San Antonio.

Why Was It a Bad Idea for Texas to Eliminate Water Breaks?

In 2019, there were 43 worker fatalities due to environmental heat exposure in the U.S., as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Heat waves in Texas have made construction workers more vulnerable to heat-related death. In 2022, Texas experienced a severe drought and its second-hottest summer on record.

Designed to curb progressive policies in liberal-leaning cities, HB 2127 restricts local governments from creating ordinances that go beyond what is dictated by state law in various industries, such as business, agriculture, natural resources, and labor. Proponents of this law claim that legislation to guarantee water breaks for construction workers is unnecessary because the right to a safe work environment is already guaranteed under OSHA. However, there is no OSHA national standard for heat-related illnesses. The responsibility to keep workers safe lies with employers under OSHA, yet workers continue to be injured or killed.

Water breaks are essential for workers toiling on construction sites in high temperatures. It is dangerous to work in extreme heat. Regular rest breaks give workers a chance to hydrate and cool off. Otherwise, internal body temperatures can continue to rise. Workers can experience thirst, rash, irritability, and cramping. They may suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke, with the following symptoms:

  • Heat exhaustion: muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, weakness, tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin, or fainting.
  • Heat stroke: throbbing headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea; hot, red, dry, or damp skin; rapid and strong pulse; body temperature above 103°F; fainting, coma, seizure, death

What Are Current Arizona Laws About Water on Construction Sites?

The legislature passed Arizona House Bill 2684 on March 24, 2020. Section 23-206 pertains to heat illness prevention for workers in agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction materials, or other heavy materials.

Under this law, employers must provide access to safe drinking water at no cost to employees, using a baseline of one cup of cool water per 15 to 20 minutes. Electrolytes must also be provided if employees are sweating heavily for more than two hours.

Suffering Harm from Dehydration: Your Rights and Legal Options

If denial of water by your employer resulted in illness, you may have a claim for compensation. If you have lost a loved one because of a heat-related illness caused by the denial of water in the workplace, your family may have a wrongful death claim against responsible parties.

Your best course of action is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Your attorney can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.

Call The Husband & Wife Law Team for Skilled Legal Representation

The Husband & Wife Law Team in Phoenix, Arizona, has extensive experience and has been recognized for our commitment to providing compassionate and skilled legal counsel. The Husband & Wife Law Team is a Better Business Bureau “A+” rated law firm, with Mark and Alexis Breyer having recently been named some of the top injury lawyers in the Phoenix valley by North Valley Magazine.

We have the knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate your case, determine liability, and pursue the compensation you deserve. If you have suffered harm due to dehydration or a heat-related illness while on the job, don’t hesitate to let our Phoenix on the job injury lawyers know what happened. Reach out to us at (602) 457-6222 to schedule a free initial consultation with no obligation. Let’s see how we can help.

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