A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Working Without Rest Puts Lives in Danger

Last month marked the end of summer.  For most of us, that means no more trips to the beach or outdoor BBQs, but for many of our neighbors working construction in Texas, the falling temperatures offer desperately needed relief from brutal, and often life threatening, working conditions.

Billy Tirado is a foundation repairman from Dallas.  For the past 12 years, he’s worked hard to provide for his wife and three daughters, but he risks his health every time he works in the hot Texas sun.  Last summer, Billy was working for a foundation repair company that forbade him from stopping for water or rest.  As a result, he nearly fainted from heat exhaustion.  “Your body feels like it is suffocating...I felt dizzy.  My eyes got blurry.  I felt nauseous.”

Sadly, Billy’s experience is typical in the Texas construction industry.  Because there is no state or federal law ensuring rest breaks for construction workers, many employers fail to do the right thing; nearly 40% of Texas construction workers do not receive rest breaks on the job.  Workers who are denied rest breaks face higher risks of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and even death.  This summer in Dallas, an average of two workers were hospitalized due to heat-related illnesses every day.  Workers need rest breaks so that they can go home to their families each night, and head to work confident that they will be safe on the job each morning.

In March, Billy Tirado joined Workers Defense Project (WDP) to fight for rest breaks and to ask Dallas City Council to pass an ordinance ensuring ten minutes of rest for every four hours of work.  Unfortunately, this simple and life-saving ordinance has faced opposition.  While many Dallas council members have stood with workers and their right to a safe workplace, some continue to question whether the need for rest breaks is real.

At Workers Defense Project, we know from our members that the need for rest breaks in the hot Texas sun is urgent and dire.  Every day that construction workers go without rest is a day that they risk their health and financial stability.  The men and women who build our homes, our offices, our communities deserve dignity and respect on the job.  This starts with their right to rest and stay safe.  We must ensure that by next summer, rest breaks are no longer considered a luxury.


Comments

Edward Sachetti's picture

Thats the problem these days construction workers in the south are treated like dogs even worse animals are treated better than them, I have been a construction worker all my life and we always had our breaks and lunches if not we we're compensated for them. The employers in the south better wake up and better start paying better wages and taking better care of there workforce because the few that do treat there construction employees with respect and dignity will get the cream of the crop workers!!!

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