A tree worker’s death following a fatal bee attack in San Bernardino, California has resulted in citations against his employer for serious workplace safety and health violations.
While spraying water on date palm fruit from the elevated bucket of a spraying rig, the worker inadvertently disturbed a beehive. The angry bees emerged and repeatedly stung the man, who suffered anaphylactic shock and died at the site.
“Recognized workplace hazards for tree workers include bee and other harmful insect exposure,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must identify and evaluate workplace hazards, and provide appropriate personal protective equipment and effective training to their workers.”
Cal/OSHA issued four citations totaling $41,310 in proposed penalties for workplace safety and health violations, two of which were classified as serious accident-related. Hadley Date Gardens, Inc. failed to evaluate the worksite for hazardous bee and insect exposure, and failed to establish appropriate safety protocols, which include providing appropriate personal protective equipment and training that could have prevented this incident.
Cal/OSHA’s Tree Work Safety guidelines specifically cite bee stings as a potentially fatal hazard of which employers must be aware.