Thermal date company cited by Cal/OSHA for worker’s bee sting death

By in Press Enterprise on January 5, 2018

By City News Service

THERMAL — Cal/OSHA on Thursday announced the issuance of more than $40,000 in citations to a Thermal date company for alleged health and safety violations in connection with the death of a tree worker who was stung by a swarm of bees last summer.

Hadley Date Gardens Inc. was issued four citations totaling $41,310 in connection with the July 3 death of Gerardo Balbuena, 49, of Thermal.

Balbuena was spraying water on date palm fruit when a beehive was disturbed, causing him to be stung repeatedly. He went into anaphylactic shock and died at the scene, a date palm orchard off Avenue 73.

A Cal/OSHA statement alleges that 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.”

Bee stings are listed as a potentially fatal hazard under Cal/OSHA’s Tree Work Safety guidelines.

“Recognized workplace hazards for tree workers include bee and other harmful insect exposure,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said. “Employers must identify and evaluate workplace hazards, and provide appropriate personal protective equipment and effective training to their workers.”

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