By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Dust at job site during construction of Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility
June 26, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – With Valley Fever at epidemic proportions across the Southwest, the Monterey Herald has published tips from two attorneys on precautions employers should take at job sites to lessen the risk of contracting Valley Fever, particularly in desert areas. Suppressing dust is a key element –and one that some major project developers in our region have ignored. (See photo of dust at Ocotillo wind construction site, where the developer was cited for violations of dust suppression requirements.)
In addition to precautions that employers should heed, there are also tips for workers—including washing off tools and changing clothes before going home, since the potentially lethal spores have been known to spread to family members by hitchhiking a ride home on workers’ belongings.
The California Department of Public Health reports that about 8 percent of people hospitalized with Valley Fever die from the infection, which can also cause fever, joint swelling, stiff neck, headaches and skin lesions among other problems.
With a growing number of massive-scale projects being built in desert areas, such as industrial-scale solar and wind projects slated for San Diego’s East County and Imperial County, Valley Fever is a growing concern among residents exposed by blowing dust, as well as for workers at the site.