California Law Orders Valley Fever Training for Construction Workers
A new law recently approved by the governor of California mandates that construction employers with worksites in counties where Valley Fever is highly endemic provide their employees with awareness training on the disease. Assembly Bill No. 203 required employers to train workers on minimizing the risk of Valley Fever by May 1, 2020. Training must be provided annually thereafter, and before employees begin work that is “reasonably anticipated to cause exposure to substantial dust disturbance.” Valley Fever is caused by the microscopic fungus Coccidioides immitis, which is present in the soil of semiarid areas such as the Central Valley of California. When soil is disturbed, such as by high winds or construction activities, the fungus’ spores can become airborne and inhaled. The disease can cause disability or death, along with symptoms such as fatigue, cough, fever, shortness of breath, headaches, body aches, joint pain, rash, and flu-like symptoms.  Employers in counties in California where Valley Fever is highly endemic must provide workers with information on what Valley Fever is, how it is contracted, its symptoms, and high-risk activities and environments that may result in exposure. Employees should be taught about personal risk factors, such as having a compromised immune system, that may make them particularly vulnerable, and personal and environmental exposure prevention methods, including water-based dust suppression, good personal hygiene, and working upwind.