ADOT workers beat the heat

Arizona Department of Transportation

ADOT on Facebook  ADOT on Twitter  ADOT on YouTube  

For Immediate Release: August 2, 2011

Contact: ADOT Public Information Office -or- 1.800.949.8057


During hot summer days, ADOT employees ‘beat the heat’ while doing highway work

Training and experience prepare road crews to deal with extreme heat


PHOENIX – With another round of triple-digit temperatures hitting Arizona this week, sending many people indoors, that’s not the case for many Arizona Department of Transportation workers. For these highway crews, heat is a part of the job they need to be prepared for.


Heat-related injuries are a potential hazard for ADOT maintenance and construction workers across the state. On asphalt or concrete, temperatures often soar 15 to 20 degrees above the air temperature. Heat stress occurs when the body works too hard to cool itself. ADOT trains its employees to know that exposure to summer heat can be life threatening if not treated properly. Highway workers are taught to monitor themselves and their co-workers for signs of heat-related incidents and to use common sense when working out in the hot sun.


Heat safety training is a critical task for ADOT’s Health and Safety Office. Workers who are exposed to high temperatures are required to complete a heat stress training class. They learn to know the signs and symptoms of heat injury, and to observe proper work practices. That includes drinking enough fluids, taking adequate rest breaks and knowing first aid procedures for treating heat illnesses. In addition, all ADOT offices involved in highway work across the state conduct their own “Safety Stand Down Days” to review heat and other safety issues.


Highway workers are trained to take several preventive measures to beat the heat, particularly in parts of southern and western Arizona that experience the hottest weather.


“We’re used to it in Yuma, but we prepare for the hot weather by wearing long sleeves, hard hats, sunscreen and drinking lots of water,” said Yuma District Maintenance Supervisor Miguel Figueroa, who has been an ADOT employee for 20 years and is currently working on a 13-mile paving project on Interstate 8 near the Arizona/California state line.


Through successful use of heat stress training and other methods, only four ADOT employees have been treated for heat-related illnesses since 2009.


In addition to training, ADOT uses various strategies to mitigate the effects of the heat:


Projects are usually started earlier in the day before the hottest hours in the afternoon.


Workers use a ‘buddy system’, where they are responsible for observing fellow co-workers for early signs and symptoms of heat disorders.


Summer standards include switching some paving to nighttime shifts once daytime temperatures reach 100.


Retrofitting highways with one inch overlays of temperature-sensitive rubberized asphalt is typically avoided during the hottest months of the year.


Employees who have not been working in hot environments are required to have at least a 7 to-10 day acclimatization period during which they need to take extra time to rest and replenish liquids.


ADOT has a large supply of safety products for distribution to employees. The Health and Safety Office provides large amounts of sunscreen to employees. Additionally, the department has access to other sun protection gear, including hard hat sun shades and long sleeved safety shirts.


For more information about ADOT projects and programs across Arizona see the agency's latest blog posts at