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Fatal Bee Swarm Sparks Cal/OSHA Probe

Thursday, August 6, 2015

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California workplace safety authorities are investigating the death of a construction worker who died after a bee swarm attack in Riverside.

Douglas Queen, 49, of Los Angeles, died of a severe allergic reaction to multiple stings after inadvertently disturbing a bee colony while grading space for a parking lot near a Wal-Mart store, according to reports.

©iStock.com / NatCHEZthedog

Bees disturbed at a jobsite in Riverside, CA, swarmed three construction workers. One worker died of a severe allergic reaction to multiple stings.

The incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. Monday (Aug. 3), according to the Riverside Fire Department. Two other workers were treated at the scene with moderate and minor injuries.

Sprinkler Box with Bees

“The crew was grading a space for a new parking lot and, unbeknownst to them, they ran their blade over an underground sprinkler box that housed this hive of bees,” Riverside Fire Department Battalion Chief Tony Perna told members of the media.

“The bees swarmed these guys and stung three of them.”

Queen was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and died approximately one hour later, reports said. It is unclear the type of bees involved or how many times the victims were stung.

The bees returned to the hive after the attack where they were monitored for four hours by firefighters, according to The Desert Sun.

Reports conflicted as to whether pest control specialists disposed of the hive or it was allowed to remain at the jobsite.

Investigation Underway

Cal/OSHA, the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, has launched an investigation to determine what happened at the site and whether adequate measures were taken to prevent the accident.

Queen was an electrician employed by JDI Electrical Solutions in Perris, reports said. 

The company did not immediately respond Wednesday (Aug. 5) to a request for comment.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Contractors; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Parking Garages

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (8/6/2015, 4:55 AM)

The value of pre-work inspections cannot be overemphasized in identifying unsafe conditions or other risks.

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (8/6/2015, 11:29 AM)

I am not minimizing the death of a worker. Should construction workers be tested for allergies to bees and other natural risks? On the other hand, there is a nation-wide, serious decimation of unknown causes to bee colonies. This reduction impacts the pollination of fruit trees and other food sources.

Comment from Rainer Gerbatsch , (8/6/2015, 12:49 PM)

I find it ludicrous to call bees a pest. They are an essential part of our eco system. So let's protect them as they deserve!

Comment from peter gibson, (8/6/2015, 3:32 PM)

Ridiculous...OSHA involved in bees.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/7/2015, 8:17 AM)

Peter - It's a workplace fatality. It should be investigated at least briefly to confirm how the fatality happened. Doesn't matter if it is bees, clowns or silly hats that the initial reports indicate was the cause. This needs to be formally confirmed. Initial reports are often wrong or incomplete.

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