SeaWorld, the famed marine mammal park and oceanarium company, is in the news once again. According to reports, the company is not providing a safe work environment for its animal trainers. Investigations conducted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration began in 2010 after a trainer was drowned by a killer whale. A three-year battle between OSHA and SeaWorld has continued and recently resulted in the theme parks being fined, specifically the facility in Florida.
The fines -- a total of $38,500 -- were tied to an inspection that occurred in December 2012. After being cited for OSHA violations last summer, SeaWorld was given until late July to follow through on mandates that OSHA had made. Those requirements dictated that animal trainers would be barred from working with killer whales unless a physical barrier was protecting the trainers or a certain amount of distance was between them and the killer whales.
These requirements should have been in place by late July of last year, but SeaWorld filed a petition asking for a six-month extension because OSHA did not dictate how far away trainers would have to be. According to SeaWorld, the mandates were implemented but officials with OSHA disagreed. Attorneys representing the federal regulation agency said that safety regulation changes remained inadequate. An official with SeaWorld said that trainers who are kneeling must stay three feet away from a killer whale. Those who are standing at the edge of the pool must remain 18 inches away from the edge if a killer whale is near. Other policies have also been put into place, but OSHA is still unsatisfied, thus the recent fine.
Workers in Houston, Texas, who have been exposed to the consequences of an unsafe work environment should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If your employer is the responsible party, any severe injuries may be compensable, giving you the ability to continue living with the damage that was done to you.
Source: Click Orlando, "OSHA fines SeaWorld $38,500 for safety violation" No Author Given, Jun. 10, 2013