Ensuring the Right to Rest: City Ordinances and Access to Rest Breaks for Workers in the Construction Industry

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of city Rest Break Ordinance (RBO) policies in expanding access to rest at work.


We use data from surveys of construction workers in Austin and Dallas, Texas, in 2009, 2012, and 2015 (n = 557) to calculate the odds of receiving a rest break in pre- versus post-RBO Austin and in post-RBO Austin versus pre-RBO Dallas, controlling for demographic and employment characteristics.


Construction workers were 35% more likely to report receiving a rest break in Austin post-RBO and 16% less likely in Dallas without a RBO as compared to Austin with a RBO.


The increased likelihood of receiving rest breaks at work in a RBO city suggests that, in the absence of enforceable national standards, city-level RBOs can be an important first step to effective prevention of heat-related illnesses (HRIs) and heat-related fatalities at work.

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