Phoenix City Council Requires Heat Safety Plans for Contractors Amid Soaring Temperatures

In light of record breaking summer temperatures in recent years, Phoenix, AZ’s City Council has passed an ordinance that will require all city contractors and subcontractors to develop heat safety plans. In 2023, the city experienced 31 straight days with temperatures over 110F (~43C) and – according to Maricopa County Department of Public Health reports – 395 heat-related deaths occurred, the most ever recorded in a single year. 

“Extreme heat is Phoenix’s natural disaster,” Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari said. “Hopefully, this will be … the beginning of stronger policies to make sure that Phoenix is prepared to respond to extreme heat that is baked into our future.”

The plans – which are expected to be put into effect before summer of this year –  must include:

  • availability of free cool drinking water;
  • ability to take regular and necessary breaks (including water breaks);
  • access to shade and/or air conditioning;
  • access to air conditioning in vehicles with enclosed cabs (by May 1, 2025);
  • acclimatization practices; and
  • training on heat illness and injury.

The City estimates the ordinance will affect about 10,000 workers. A citywide campaign had been held prior to the passing of the ordinance that included members of SEIU, UNITE HERE Local 11 and other labor and community organizations.

David Hondula, director of Phoenix’s Office of Heat Response and Mitigation, stated, “It also makes good business sense for us to have and implement a heat response plan. For one, research shows us that workers who are not dealing with, recovering from or worried about heat-related illness are more productive on the job.”