OSHA can close you down if they do not believe you are able to keep employees safe

Sea World can no longer allow trainers in the water with ORCAs after OSHA Administrative law judge ruling

More than two years ago a trainer at Sea World in Orlando Florida was killed by an ORCA (killer whale in the article). OSHA spent six months studying Sea World and how it dealt with ORCA’s. Sea World appealed OSHA’s ruling, and the administrative law judge followed OSHA’s findings to a great extent.

The basis of the ruling is there must be a barrier between trainers and ORCAs or trainers must be at a greater distance from the animals.

This to some extent will totally change the program that Sea World is so famous for.

Sea World Orlando

The reasoning allegedly behind the ruling was threefold:

·         None of the techniques that Sea World had developed to deal with problems did not work with the ORCA that killed the trainer. These actions included “slaps in the water and other signals devised to bring him under control.”

·         The statements that Sea World argued on ORCA behaviors were not based on science. ORCAs had been involved in four deaths.

·         Sea World had an inclination to blame trainers for problems.

The judge did not agree with the complete report. It lowered the fines substantially and found that Sea World was concerned with employee safety.

Do Something

I’ve said it (written it) dozens of times that litigation rarely puts someone out of business. Sea World is claiming that this will not change its program substantially. However, a federal agency does have a greater opportunity to close you down. This can range from the health department saying your kitchen must be closed or some state agency finding your waterfront to be out of regulation.

Sea World is big enough, has the power ($) to fight the fines and the imposition, to some extent, of the imposed rules.

The bottom line is twofold.

1.   Keeping employees safe must be as important as keeping your guests and participant’s safe.

2.   The battle to remain open is going to be with the government and its agencies in the future.

I’ve said for the past ten years that my practice has evolved from one of litigation prevention to access. Fighting to hold onto the right or opportunity to take people into the woods. This fight is going to be greater in the future than any fight of the past.

See Ruling Puts Distance Between Killer Whales and Trainers

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