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Have recently started working as an apprentice for a commercial beekeeping outfit, am really enjoying the job but after doing some research into stings and allergies it seems to me that carrying at least one epi pen per vehicle would be common sense for a commercial beekeeper.

I'm aware that I could request for my doctor prescribe adrenaline but an EpiPen seems like a better option as you dont have to muck around drawing a syringe etc while anyphylaxis sets in.

Any recommendations as to what I can say to my employer to encourage them to "splash out" on EpiPens? Are there no laws requiring commercial beekeepers to carry epi pens?

As I understand it 2-5% of people can develop anaphylaxis and most beekeepers that do so will do in their first 2 seasons, we service some quite remote hives so it seems kinda crazy to just roll the dice..

 

All advice appreciated.

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I've put some resources up, including a free online training program at      

EpiPen costs 120 and lasts in excess of 12 months usually. That's nothing near the 320 you estimated.   You order them online from Queenstown with free nationwide delivery, which means no tr

We know another couple well, they keep bees about 20km from here.  He is a pharmacist, she works in an office in town, they have 6 colonies on their property.  He decided to just keep a kit around 'ju

If you're having a proper anaphylactic reaction you won't be able to draw up adrenaline yourself. Someone else would need to be present to administer it. An EpiPen is self administered.

 

Common sense would be beneficial but I'm not aware of the legal implications of carrying/ not carrying it with regards to OSH.

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Reality is it will be resisted by most empoyers on the grounds of cost, and that it has never been done.

 

But if the matter went before OSH, they could rule that "all practical steps should be taken", and that would include provision of an epipen. However the employer would probably get away with the $35 version, because although someone in severe anaphylaxis may not have the presence of mind to draw a syringe, it takes a few minutes to get to that stage, and once the first signs are identified, a shot could be administered. Or, a policy of always 2 in a truck could solve it from an OSH perspective.

 

I only know of one death due to anaphylaxis while out on a bee truck. And that was by a beekeeper who took his son out for the day to a remote location, despite it was already known that the boy would have an anaphylactic reaction if stung. The boy was stung, and did die.

 

I think that someone agitating for an epipen in every truck, might get identified as a stirrer by many bosses. I'm not saying that is right, but I think it will be the reality. If you are concerned but don't get joy from the employer, the best course of action might be fork out your own $35 and get the cheap version. You may think you shouldn't have to, but it could keep things smooth.

 

I have one in my vehicle, never been needed, but, never know when or if someone, maybe just a chatting landowner, could be stung, and could go into anaphylaxis. People around me have been stung on occasion, and when that happens I always wait around long enough to know they are not going into anaphylaxis.

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1 hour ago, Alastair said:

I think that someone agitating for an epipen in every truck, might get identified as a stirrer by many bosses. I'm not saying that is right, but I think it will be the reality. If you are concerned but don't get joy from the employer, the best course of action might be fork out your own $35 and get the cheap version. You may think you shouldn't have to, but it could keep things smooth.

 

Is the employer resistant to an epipen- or to having an adrenalin kit available?

the two are vastly different on both function and cost.

 

IMO if the employer provides an adrenalin kit, then if the employee prefers to have an epipen, it isn't unreasonable for that to be at the employees cost.

I think any beekeeping operation would be found negligent by worksafe if an event happened and it was found there was no access to Adrenalin.

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we where sort off involved in an incident.

boss was at a place and neighbours brought a child over with a bad bee reaction. the staff there had epipen (as do we).

one of the issues was they used it straight away which is pointless. it only last for a short time.

 

as far as beeks having them, remember its not the beeks who get allergic reactions. its the guests, land owners etc.

we don't carry epipens for our use, its for everyone else benefit. which is why many beeks simply don't bother and many bosses will resist. plus the cost of having to regularly replace them. i bet many are way out of date.

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I have had an anaphylactic reacion, after a bout of flu when my immune system was down, requiring emergency adrenaline by the local area medical centre, with very successful follow up in the South Island honey bee venom desensitisation programme at Christchurch Hospital.

 

In over 20 years I know of 2 fatalities from honey bees and these were children of beekeepers; one of whom was not in a beekeeping situation;  both of whom the parents were my customers.

 

In other instances of anaphylaxis the ambulance has met the patient who was taken by car to the halfway mark, or the chopper arrived in minutes after the 111 call.

 

I would thoroughly recommend Loratidine in the first aid kit.  This is the antihistamine of choice used by the South Island desensitisation programme.  The dose can be safely doubled in an emergency. I would also recommend local beekeepers mobile numbers be stored on your mobile.  

 

I have apairies that 50-100 metres is the difference in phone reception, and that is something I am aware of.  The situation where I would recommend epipens in the truck is those remote situations where it may be a long walk or drive for phone recption.  

 

18 months ago for a presentation that I gave "Whose Getting Stung - Have ACC Bee Sting Claims Doubled With Doubling NZ Hive Numbers?" I obtained numerous statistics under the Official Information Act from ACC.  Very briefly the following stats were supplied:

 

In 2017/18 there were a total of 6426 bee sting claims to ACC (with only 101 in the agricultural sector which includes all aspects of primary production).  That year 4257 of the bee sting claims were in the home environment.  Only 26 of were given the diagnosis of anaphylaxis (mild to moderate).  

 

In the period 2012-18 there were zero new fatal bee stings lodged with ACC.  

 

Bees are indiscriminate in gender.

 

With all the stats that ACC provided my conclusion in summary was the greatest number of bee sting claims in NZ are in the Auckland region, work claims are minimal, the home environment is the largest bee sting injuury site, the largest claim bands are in the 5-14 year bracket.  Fatalities are relatively unusual.  

 

If the author of this thread is unsure of their rights, perhaps they need to contact the Ministry of Business Innovation & Enterprise (MBIE) re their employment issue.  Maybe have a chat with their GP for reassurance.  I also believe that the employee has to be responsible for their own well being, along with the employer being realistic of working circumstances.  

 

 

 

 

Edited by Maggie James
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12 hours ago, ThatBeeGuy said:

Have recently started working as an apprentice for a commercial beekeeping outfit

I think your life is more in danger travelling in the honey truck to an apiary!

 

As a matter of interest: Yesterday I am in my grafting yard in Ellesemere undertaking hive manipulations to discover that there are ten police cars, plus a dog, chasing a stolen vehicle from ChCh.  The guy was running down creekbeds and irrigation ditches to throw the cops of the scent.   Nobody thought of telling me.  Fortunately the guy didn't have a gun.   I thought it was all rather amusing!  

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Epipens are a no brainer. We  keep one in the big truck and one in the smoko room. In this day and age it pays for the employer to cover his backside for the eventuality of when the poo hits the fan.

We had a situation the other year when an employee went into Ana shock six months after he had started working on the bees.

The Epipen was expired, but the medic on the end of the 111 call advised we use it ....

 

I would suggest @ThatBeeGuy talks to the Boss in a quiet time and gently rolls his case.

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That's good info Gerry, I did not know the reaction could come on so fast. What was the outcome? Sounds like he had minutes to live? The anaphylaxis I once saw, from multiple wasp stings to someone, the person was very coherant for at a guess at least 5 minutes, and fairly lucid after that also.

 

So here's a question. ThatBeeGuy said he was told that if beekeepers are going to develop anaphylaxis it is most likely to happen in the first 2 years. I presume you would be talking about commercial beekepers ThatBeeGuy? Since hobbyists hardly ever get stung.

 

I often get asked "do you get stung much"? Yes i say, probably 10 times a day, or more, which for me, would be true.

The pharmacist was a hobbyist and likely was rarely stung. But how likely would it be that a commercial beekeeper like me who started nearly 50 years ago and gets stung a lot, would develop anaphylaxis? Anyone know?

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3 hours ago, frazzledfozzle said:

it’s my understanding that anyone can become allergic at any time even old timers who have been stung hundreds of times over the years .

When it happens, it can happen without forewarning.  

 

I have seen job advertisements for beekeepers stating a condition of employment is not to have an allergy to bee venom.  I wonder about that, because it is often not a known pre existing condition, and can the employer cover thereselves from a H&S aspect if anaphylaxis suddenly happens out of the blue; if it is a term of employment?  

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13 minutes ago, Maggie James said:

I have seen job advertisements for beekeepers stating a condition of employment is not to have an allergy to bee venom. 

 

Fair enough to put that in a job ad.

 

Remember maybe a year ago when a member here was asking about his "rights"? Because he had been fired from his beekeeping job which he had held for less than a week.

 

When the truth eventually got out, it turned out he had told the employer he had several years beekeeping experience so the employer assumed he could deal with a bee sting.

But as well as being pretty useless and therefore disliked by his co workers cos he didn't pull his weight, he went home mid morning on his last day because he got one bee sting while extracting honey. That was the last straw for the employer, who decided to cut his losses and sack the guy. Talking about bee stings during the employment process may help avoid such scenarios.

 

 

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On 12/11/2020 at 11:56 AM, Alastair said:

That's good info Gerry, I did not know the reaction could come on so fast. What was the outcome? Sounds like he had minutes to live? The anaphylaxis I once saw, from multiple wasp stings to someone, the person was very coherant for at a guess at least 5 minutes, and fairly lucid after that also.

 

 

 

His wife managed to get him injected, then loaded him into the car and drove like a maniac to the hospital, about a 15 minute drive from their place.

 

We had an incident here a bunch of years ago, which was the one that inspired us to keep an auto-injector in inventory ourselves.  Circumstances were such that I was prohibited from driving for a couple weeks due to a drug I had been perscribed for a back problem.  It was at the time of the year when we do a 'deep look' checking colonies for swarm cells, beautiful Saturday morning and my wife was along to hinder, er help, my progress.  We were on the sixth or seventh colony and wouldn't you know it, I dropped a frame that was packed with bees, it landed on her foot.  Bees started crawling up her leg, and she had not tucked the pants into her boots, took 50 or more stings by the time the dust settled.  A couple minutes later she is feeling woozy and having trouble walking.  Lucky for us, just as I got her back to the house, my dad drove up, so we all jumped in his car and he drove us to the hospital.

 

My wife works there, so everybody knows her.  There was a fairly long line at the emergency desk, but the gal took one look at Chris and said 'you are coming to the back right now'.  They injected her and kept her for observation for an hour.  Before she left, the ER doc wrote a perscription for an epi-pen and told her to pick it up on the way home.

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Lots of good advice, and it never occurred to me to make an ACC claim for a bee sting. 
 

I agree... everyone should have a pen. Lead by example and buy your own. 
 

If you only used it once In your entire career, you will never regret all the wasted pens. 
 

think of all the money wasted on airbags that never deploy, helmets that never hit the road, life jackets that never get wet... the list goes on and on. 

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On 19/11/2020 at 6:55 AM, Josh said:

think of all the money wasted on airbags that never deploy, helmets that never hit the road, life jackets that never get wet... the list goes on and on. 

i've been middle back-seat passenger saved by a lap-belt in a high speed head on colliion, broken two bike helmets, and broken one climbing helmet.

maybe i should buy an epipen?

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On 19/11/2020 at 1:49 PM, Sailabee said:

I think that if the OP bought an Epipen, and unexpectedly a fellow worker needed it, could be a right lil earner.


“we’ll open the bidding at...”

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Might be the right time to tell a funny story about this, happened some years ago at the Auckland Beekeepers Club.

 

A well known AP2 who owned an epipen was asked to do a presentation to the club about them. So she was standing up the front with the epipen explaining it all, then got to the point of showing how to use it, and made a jabbing motion with it towards her thigh. Only problem she went a little too far, made contact, and actually injected herself right there and then 😆 😮

 

 

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