Hadley Date Gardens Inc. of Thermal has received four citations totaling more than $40,000 in penalties for serious workplace safety and health violations following a bee swarm that stung and killed a tree worker. The incident serves as a reminder that employers must protect tree workers from these types of hazards.
Cal/OSHA issued the citations.
On July 3, 2017, a tree worker was spraying water on date palm fruit from the elevated bucket of a spraying rig when a beehive was disturbed. The bees repeatedly stung the worker, who suffered anaphylactic shock and died at the site.
“Recognized workplace hazards for tree workers include bee and other harmful insect exposure,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a prepared statement. “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.