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Local Law: Phoenix Passes New Workplace Heat-Safety Ordinance for City Contractors

As reported by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), the Phoenix has passed a new local ordinance that requires contractors and subcontractors that work with the city to take more stringent heat safety measures. This comes after Arizona experienced its hottest summer on record in 2023. Within this blog post, our Phoenix workers’ compensation attorney provides an overview of the risk that heat poses to outdoor workers, discusses Arizona law, and explains the new local ordinance for city contractors.


Summer Heat Poses a Serious Safety Risk—Especially to Outdoor Workers 

Summer heat presents a significant safety hazard—particularly so for those who work outdoors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that thousands of workers nationwide are required to take time off for medical complications related to an environmental cause of heat injury/illness each year. Approximately three dozen U.S. workers die on the job due to outdoor exposure each year. The statistics are alarming because heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. All employers should put the proper safety protocols in place. It is crucial that outdoor workers take regular breaks, stay hydrated, and use the appropriate sun protection. Heat safety is exceptionally vital when outdoor temperatures reach triple digits. For reference, the National Weather Service reports that Phoenix has an average of 110 100 degree or more days each year. 


Arizona Passed Statewide Workplace Heat-Safety Regulations

In July of 2023, Arizona joined several other Western states—including California and Washington—in passing heat safety regulations to protect outdoor workers. The workplace safety rules—which were promulgated by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH)—are designed to ensure that workers have adequate access to water, shade, and rest. The regulations also include measures for new worker training and acclimatization. 


Although Arizona still does not have a formal heat standard like some other states, the new program leverages the federal OSHA’s General Duty Clause. Among other things, it mandates that employers must maintain a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. As part of the workplace safety initiative, ADOSH will inspect certain worksites to ensure compliance with heat safety practices. 


Local Ordinance: More Stringent Heat Safety Rules for City Contractors in Phoenix

Phoenix has now passed a local ordinance that imposed far more stringent outdoor heat safety standards on contractors and subcontractors that work on city contractors. Officials in Phoenix call  the new regulations a “first step” towards even more comprehensive workplace safety standards. In response to rising temperatures around the globe, the Phoenix City Council passed an ordinance requiring all city contractors and subcontractors to develop comprehensive heat safety plans. 

To be clear, the mandate is aimed at preventing heat-related illnesses and injuries among workers, particularly in light of the record-breaking heat experienced in Phoenix in 2023. Temperatures soared above 110 degrees fahrenheit for a month straight last summer. The local regulation is expected to apply to approximately 10,000 workers in the city. Here are some of the most important provisions that local workers should understand about the Phoenix ordinance: 

  • Easy Access (Water, Rest, and Shade): The new Phoenix ordinance mandates that all city contractors and subcontractors must ensure that workers have easy access to water, rest, and shade. The rule is designed to prevent heat-related illnesses by allowing workers to stay hydrated, cool down, and avoid direct sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day. Water, rest, and shade are the three keys to mitigating heat risk. 
  • Air Conditioning in Closed Cab Vehicles: Another requirement of the Phoenix heat safety ordinance is that any vehicle with a closed cab used by workers must be equipped with functioning air conditioning. The rule is designed to ensure that workers have a cool environment available during transport or while operating machinery with a closed cab. Notably, this part of the Phoenix ordinance is set to be fully implemented by May 1, 2025.
  • Adequate Heat Safety Training: Workplace safety training matters. It can make a huge difference. The ordinance also stipulates that contractors provide adequate heat safety training for all workers. The training is intended to educate workers on recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses, the importance of hydration, and the proper use of rest. 


Workers Deal With Heat-Related Illness Need Immediate Medical Attention

Heat illnesses are a medical emergency. Without immediate attention, a workplace heat illness—such as a heat stroke—can be life-threatening. Workers experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, headache, rapid heartbeat, confusion, or fainting require prompt care. . Immediate cooling measures, such as moving to a shaded area, using cool water or ice packs, and hydration are vital initial steps. At the same time, all heat-related issues should be evaluated by a doctor. Of course, employers in Arizona should have emergency protocols in place and ensure all workers know how to react when they—or their coworker—show signs of heat stress. 


A Heat-Related Illness is Covered By Workers’ Comp if Job-Related

If a worker suffers from a heat-related illness as a direct result of their job duties and environment, the medical complications are typically covered by workers’ comp. In Arizona, workers’ comp provides no-fault benefits. Along with other types of damages, workers’ comp coverage include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages. Workers should report the illness as soon as it occurs. An employer should document any workplace safety incident, including a heat-related illness. An experienced Arizona workers’ comp attorney can help you navigate a claim. 


Speak to Our Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Arizona Today

At Snow, Carpio and Weekley, PLC, our Phoenix workers’ compensation attorneys have the professional expertise that injured workers can trust. If you or your family member suffered any heat-related illness while on the job, we are here as a legal resource. Give us a phone call at (877) 370-5788 or contact us online for a free review of your case. We represent injured workers in Phoenix and throughout Arizona, including in Tucson, Scottsdale, Glendale, and Lake Havasu. 

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