Bakersfield — Cal/OSHA has cited six employers $241,950 for workplace safety and health violations after reports that workers contracted Valley Fever on a solar project construction site in Monterey County.
The employers at the California Flats Solar Project in Cholame Hills were cited for serious violations that included failure to control employee exposure to contaminated dust at the worksite, and failure to provide and ensure use of appropriate respiratory protection. One employer, Papich Construction, Inc., was cited in 2013 for some of the same violations.
“Employers who work in areas endemic to Valley Fever must take preventative measures to protect workers who may be exposed,” said Juliann Sum, Chief of Cal/OSHA.
Employers cited include:
|Employer||Type||Violation Classification||Proposed Penalties|
|McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.||General Contractor||Serious 2, General 2||$46,540|
|Papich Construction Co., Inc.||Subcontractor||Repeat Serious 1, Serious 1, General 1||$68,900|
|Granite Construction Co., Inc.||Subcontractor||Serious 2, General 2||$46,590|
|Sachs Electric Company||Subcontractor||Serious 2, General 2||$46,400|
|Dudek||Subcontractor||Serious 1, General 2||$23,620|
|Althouse and Meade, Inc.||Subcontractor||Serious 1||$9,900|
Valley Fever is caused by a microscopic fungus known as Coccidioides immitis, which lives in the top two to 12 inches of soil in many parts of the state. When soil is disturbed by digging, driving, or high winds, fungal spores can become airborne and may be inhaled by workers. While the fungal spores are more likely to be present in the soils of the Central Valley, they may also be present in other areas of California.