Salas Valley Fever Bill to Improve Worker Safety Passes Assembly Floor

Friday, May 24, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, Assembly Bill (AB) 203, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), passed the Assembly Floor with bipartisan support.  AB 203 would strengthen and improve education and protections for workers from valley fever by requiring construction employers in endemic counties to provide effective awareness and prevention training to employees.

“Awareness and prevention training will ensure that at risk employees will be able to prevent potential infections and recognize the symptoms of valley fever,” said Assemblymember Salas.  “Those who are infected often do not recognize the symptoms or are not diagnosed right away; this can result in lengthy and costly hospital stays, and in the worst-case scenarios can even result in death. AB 203 is a critical step forward in educating employees about recognizing the symptoms of valley fever and in the best practices for preventing infection.”

In a study that looked at valley fever outbreaks in the U.S. and worldwide between 1940 and 2015, it was found that more than half of the total outbreaks were associated with occupational exposure. In another study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that looked at an outbreak at Camp Roberts near San Miguel in San Luis Obispo County, it was found that occupational Valley Fever incidences have nearly quadrupled in California from 2000 to 2006. Furthermore, it concluded that multiple risk-based measures are needed to control occupational Valley Fever in endemic areas.

AB 203 represents a continuing effort on the part of Assemblymember Salas to enhance protections, awareness and research surrounding valley fever. Last year, Salas authored and passed three bills that improved valley fever reporting and provided enhanced education for physicians and the public about valley fever (AB 1787, AB 1789, and AB 1790). In addition, Salas secured $3 million for valley fever research at the University of California, $3 million for the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, and $2 million for a public awareness campaign conducted by the California Department of Public Health. 

AB 203 moves next to the Senate.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.