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Texas removes mandate for construction worker water breaks amid heat

New legislation in the state removes protections, including ordinances in Austin and Dallas that required 10-minute hydration breaks every four hours.
Texas removes mandate for construction worker water breaks amid heat
Posted at 8:42 PM, Jun 23, 2023

As Texas endures rising and sweltering heat conditions this summer, officials in that state warned residents and workers to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. 

But, in what could be considered a great irony to many, especially considering the timing, the state's Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation into law that would remove rules that made consistent water breaks for construction workers mandatory. 

The rules had previously required construction workers in some cities in the state to take 10-minute breaks every four hours to stay hydrated. The new law aims to remove those breaks, with supporters viewing the legislation as a way to remove barriers to that get in the way of work. 

But, opponents say it could prove to be dangerous for workers as temperatures outside rise. 

SEE MORE: Texas utility warns of more hot days next week

The Texas legislature passed House Bill 2127 during a regular legislative session this year, before Gov. Abbott signed it into law last week. 

Though the law is not set to go into effect until Sept. 1, it's uncertain what this summer's expected high temperatures will bring in just a matter of weeks, and later on in the season. 

The law will remove ordinances put in place in Austin in 2010 and in Dallas in 2015 that require the hydration breaks to protect workers in the southern state. San Antonio lawmakers are also considering removing similar ordinances, according to the Texas Tribune

Ana Gonzalez, deputy director of policy and politics at the Texas AFL-CIO, says we can expect to see more deaths in Texas with the removal of safety ordinances like these. 

"Construction is a deadly industry. Whatever the minimum protection is, it can save a life. We are talking about a human right," Gonzalez said. 

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