Construction companies in Kern and certain other counties will be required to train their employees about valley fever risks and symptoms under a new law authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and signed late last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
A primary goal of the legislation, Assembly Bill 203, is to reduce the time lost, and medical expenses incurred, when people working outside breathe in invisible spores and end up contracting the airborne fungal disease also known as coccidioidomycosis.
The legislation was supported by industry and labor groups.
Salas noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated almost three-quarters of people with valley fever miss work or school and that up to 40 percent are hospitalized for treatment, at an average cost of $50,000.
The assemblyman also pointed to a study suggesting that between 1940 and 2015, more than half of outbreaks were associated with exposure on the job.