Last summer Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved a law that eliminates rules mandating water breaks for construction workers. This change has raised concerns for the safety of those working in the extreme summer heat.

With House Bill 2127 signed into effect on September 1, 2023, protections for Texas laborers working outdoors have diminished. Based on data analysis by The Texas Tribune, 279 deaths in Texas were attributed to heat in 2022. Heat-related mortalities are actually thought to be higher, as heat-related symptoms sometimes present as other health matters.

Upward-trending global temperatures only exacerbate the intense summer heat in Texas. The "urban island" effect of cities - precipitated by more concrete and less natural surroundings - can also aggravate already-extreme temperatures.

The University of Texas at Austin Environmental Health & Safety recommends the following for work environments:

Limit time in the heat and/or increase recovery time spent in a cool environment.

Reduce the metabolic demands of the job.

Use special tools (i.e., tools intended to minimize manual strain).

Increase the number of workers per task.

Train supervisors and workers about heat stress.

Implement a buddy system where workers observe each other for signs of heat intolerance.

Require workers to conduct self-monitoring and create a work group (i.e., workers, a qualified healthcare provider, and a safety manager) to make decisions on self-monitoring options and standard operating procedures.

Provide adequate amounts of cool, potable water near the work area and encourage workers to drink frequently.

Implement a heat alert program whenever the weather service forecasts that a heat wave is likely to occur.

Institute a heat acclimatization plan and increase physical fitness.

Symptoms of heat-related illness include but are not limited to headache, dizziness, nausea, clammy skin, racing pulse, and loss of consciousness. For further information, read more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amplified by climate change, the heat waves of Texas - without sensible safeguards in place for workers - will likely be even deadlier.

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The 9 Best NATURAL Lazy Rivers in Texas in Which to Cool the Hell Off

If you're interested in tubing, swimming, or just sitting on the bank and listening to the water flow by, you'll find a great Texas river destination here.

Gallery Credit: Tara Holley

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