Construction employers with worksites in the Central Valley should be aware of new Valley Fever training requirements for their employees. Under Labor Code section 6709, construction employers with worksites in specific counties must provide employees with yearly Valley Fever awareness training on or before May 1 of each year. Training must be provided if the “work activities disturb the soil, including, but not limited to, digging, grading, or other earth moving operations, or vehicle operation on dirt roads, or high winds.” The provision applies to construction sites in the following counties:
• San Joaquin
• San Luis Obispo
• Santa Barbara
It should be noted, however, that the list of covered counties may be increased if determined to be “highly endemic” areas following release of the Department of Public Health’s annual report.
Annual Valley Fever training must include the following topics:
(1) What Valley Fever is and how it is contracted.
(2) High risk areas and types of work and environmental conditions during which the risk of contracting Valley Fever is highest.
(3) Personal risk factors that may create a higher risk for some individuals, including pregnancy, diabetes, having a compromised immune system due to causes including, but not limited to, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), having received an organ transplant, or taking immunosuppressant drugs such as corticosteroids or tumor necrosis factor inhibitors.
(4) Personal and environmental exposure prevention methods that may include, but are not limited to, water-based dust suppression, good hygiene when skin and clothing is soiled by dust, limiting contamination of drinks and food, working upwind from dusty areas when feasible, wet cleaning dusty equipment when feasible, and wearing a respirator when exposure to dust cannot be avoided.
(5) The importance of early detection, diagnosis, and treatment to help prevent the disease from progressing. Early diagnosis and treatment are important because the effectiveness of medication is greatest in early stages of the disease.
(6) Recognizing common signs and symptoms of Valley Fever, which include fatigue, cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, muscle aches or joint pain, rash on upper body or legs, and symptoms similar to influenza that linger longer than usual.
(7) The importance of reporting symptoms to the employer and seeking medical attention from a physician and surgeon for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
(8) Common treatment and prognosis for Valley Fever.
Employers may use existing materials from federal, state, or local agencies as part of the training, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department of Public Health, or local health departments.
Below are links to some Valley Fever resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
California Department of Public Health:
County of Los Angeles Public Health:
Kern County Public Health Services Department:
Gibbs Giden can assist you with questions about Valley Fever training requirements.
For more information contact:
Matthew Wallin is a senior associate in the Los Angeles office where he practices labor and employment law. He has extensive experience defending private business and public entities in litigation and advising clients on labor compliance issues.
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