American Society of Safety Engineers Alert Floridians to Risk of Deadly Bees, Offer Safety Tips
Des Plaines, IL (October 27, 2008) — Florida members of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) are urging employers, employees and residents to be aware of the danger of aggressive Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs), their negative impact on European Honey Bees (EHBs) and agriculture, on workplace safety and on animals.
“These bees are very dangerous,” ASSE President Warren K. Brown, CSP, ARM, CSHM, said today. “They multiply quickly and people should have wild bee hives removed by an authorized pest control vendor or risk injury.”
The recent attack on a woman and her dogs in a South Florida neighborhood has led ASSE to reissue this warning in an effort to prevent further attacks and to increase workplace safety – whether while working on the road, in the fields or outdoors. Published reports say a 70-year-old woman was injured recently and her dogs were killed after a swarm of bees attacked them. Later, the bees attacked two other neighborhood dogs killing one.
To help prevent injuries from the AHBs for businesses and local communities, ASSE has developed a safety tip sheet and a list of resources on bee safety which can be found on-line at http://www.asse.org/newsroom/safetytips/honeybeetips.php. AHBs continue to attack people and animals at work, at home and in communities. These attacks can be deadly for those unable to recognize their danger and who are unprepared to thwart an attack.
“This is a serious threat,” ASSE member and safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professional Teresa Dwyer, CSP, of Boca Raton, FL, said. “It can cost several hundreds of dollars to have a professional remove an AHB hive and without the correct protective equipment and training, the potential rescuer may become an additional victim.”
SH&E professionals are concerned about the growth in the AHB population because of:
· their threat to public safety;
· the fact that they are not easily discernable from other less dangerous bees;
· AHBs swarm more often than EHBs, thus the AHB populations increase more rapidly;
· their potential to negatively impact the economy;
· many homeowners are not aware of these dangers and do not know how to react to the dangers of the AHB; and,
· the need to train emergency personnel, municipal workers, and SH&E practitioners on how to identify, prepare for and handle this risk at work, at home and in the community.
To help prevent possible AHB attacks, it is suggested that people: 1) be attuned and alert to buzzing in the environment – this may indicate a nest or swarm of bees; 2) use care when entering sheds or outbuildings where bees may nest; 3) examine work areas before using power equipment such as lawn mowers, weed cutters, and chain saws — the noise and vibration excites and alarms the bees; 4) be alert when engaged in all outdoor activities; 5) discuss with a doctor bee sting kits and procedures if sensitive to bee stings; 6) pet safety – do not tie or tether animals near known bee hives or nests; and, 7) stay away from honey bee colonies.
If attacked by aggressive bees, protect your face and neck and run as fast as possible to a safe sheltered area (such as a vehicle or building) – AHBs can pursue up to ¼ mile. If you are stung, officials recommend removing the stingers by scraping – use a flicking action with a finger nail or credit card, to apply ice and a paste of baking soda, and to seek medical attention immediately if breathing becomes labored.
For employers whose workers could be exposed to AHBs, it is suggested they perform a risk assessment with their SH&E professional and to provide properly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees such as full length “bee suits”, protective veils, hats and gloves with sleeve length extensions.
For additional information go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service at www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11059&page=3 and to ASSE’s http://www.asse.org/newsroom/safetytips/honeybeetips.php.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE and its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members are committed to protecting people, property and the environment. For more information please go to www.asse.org.
Additional contact: ASSE Florida member Teresa Dwyer, CSP, 561-393-7921