Tucson adopts Worker Heat Protection Ordinance, Heat Action Roadmap

Published on June 04, 2024

TUCSON, AZ.—Under the leadership of Mayor Romero, the Tucson City Council tonight adopted a Heat Action Roadmap and Heat Protection Ordinance for City Contractors—two actions that are increasing the City’s ability to mitigate and manage extreme heat and build resilience for the future. The Heat Action Roadmap marks the next step as part of the implementation of Tucson Resilient Together, the City’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. The Roadmap includes three goals: Informing, Preparing and Protecting People; Cooling People‘s Homes, and Community Centers; and Cooling Tucson Neighborhoods.

In September of 2023, Mayor and Council gave direction to create heat protection provisions for city workers and city contractors, requesting heat-related illness prevention strategies for City of Tucson workers, and mandatory training for supervisors and managers in all City departments to implement heat-protection protocols.

“Through the Heat Action Roadmap and Worker Heat Protection Ordinance the City of Tucson is leading with urgency, putting forward concreate actions to protect the public health of our community, our economy, and the Sonoran Desert,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “As the daughter of immigrant farm workers growing up in Somerton, Arizona, I saw first-hand how the dangers of extreme heat impacted loved ones and neighbors working in triple digit temperatures. These experiences shaped me,” added the Mayor.

Tucson is among the fastest-warming cities in the United States. Recent data highlights the urgent need to build heat resilience, with the summer of 2023 setting a record for the most days above 110°F, conditions that pose significant health risks, increase mortality rates, and disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, the unhoused, outdoor workers, and those with preexisting health conditions. 

"Adopting the Heat Action Roadmap marks a significant milestone for Tucson, demonstrating our commitment to safeguarding Tucsonans against the escalating challenges of extreme heat. This Roadmap outlines practical short-term solutions and builds capacity for long-term resilience, reflecting our commitment to fostering a thriving, sustainable city for all,” said City of Tucson Manager, Timothy Thomure.  

"I am honored to have collaborated with community members across sectors to develop the City of Tucson’s Heat Action Roadmap and Worker Heat Protection Ordinance. I look forward to continued coordination with local and regional partners to provide heat relief this summer and enhance our community’s ability to cope with extreme heat into the future, especially for those most vulnerable," said City of Tucson Chief Resilience Officer, Fatima Luna.

There are no federal laws specifically protecting workers from extreme heat. OSHA recommends workers be given short, frequent breaks to prevent heat-related illness, but the agency does not require rest breaks. While the Federal government has announced it is adding heat safety rules to OSHA in 2021, the federal rulemaking process could take years.

The Heat Protection Ordinance for City of Tucson Contractors can be found here.

The City of Tucson Heat Action Roadmap is available here.