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

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Abstract

Objective:

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

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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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