SeaWorld Orlando
Ehstoday 2973 Killerwhales

OSHA Goes Fishing at SeaWorld, Wants Managers for Interviews

Dec. 20, 2012
OSHA has a bone to pick with Shamu. The regulatory agency has filed a petition against SeaWorld of Florida, ordering the company to comply with subpoenas during a follow-up abatement inspection.

OSHA wants SeaWorld of Florida LLC to comply with administrative subpoenas that require SeaWorld to provide three managers to be interviewed during OSHA’s follow-up abatement inspection. The follow-up inspection is being conducted as a result of previous violations that OSHA identified after a February 2010 drowning of a trainer who was grabbed and pulled under the water by a six-ton killer whale during what SeaWorld described as a “relationship session.”

In August 2010, OSHA issued SeaWorld citations related to the incident. SeaWorld contested OSHA’s proposed violations and penalties. SeaWorld has declined to provide personnel to answer questions regarding abatement or correction of a prior violation related to trainers’ exposure to struck-by and drowning hazards when engaged in performances with killer whales.

"The employee testimony for the follow-up abatement inspection, required by a subpoena, allows OSHA inspectors to determine if SeaWorld employees continue to be exposed to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Abating safety and health hazards in the workplace needs to be as important to an employer as recognizing the hazards in the first place.”

A trial was held by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, and in June, an administrative law judge upheld OSHA’s citations against SeaWorld. Subsequently, SeaWorld was required to abate cited hazards, including those specifically related to trainers working in proximity to the killer whales. However, since the order went into effect, SeaWorld has filed a petition with the review commission seeking additional time to abate the violation regarding trainers’ interaction with killer whales. SeaWorld maintains that the petition, which is pending resolution, should restrict the scope of OSHA’s follow-up inspection.

The enforcement action has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle of Florida, Orlando Division by the department’s Atlanta Regional Solicitor’s Office.

Sponsored Recommendations

ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS)

March 28, 2024
ISO 45001 certification – reduce your organizational risk and promote occupational health and safety (OHS) by working with SGS to achieve certification or migrate to the new standard...

Want to Verify your GHG Emissions Inventory?

March 28, 2024
With the increased focus on climate change, measuring your organization’s carbon footprint is an important first action step. Our Green House Gas (GHG) verification services provide...

Download Free ESG White Paper

March 28, 2024
The Rise and Challenges of ESG – Your Journey to Enhanced Sustainability, Brand and Investor Potential

Work Safety Tips: 5 Tactics to Build Employee Engagement for Workplace Safety

March 13, 2024
Employee safety engagement strategies have become increasingly key to fostering a safer workplace environment. But, how exactly do you encourage employee buy-in when it comes ...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!