In an Orlando, Florida case involving the death of a trainer working with killer whales at SeaWorld, an administrative law judge recently ruled that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could require the use of barriers between trainers and whales, according to a recent news report from CBS Los Angeles. The ruling may change how trainers and whales work together at aquatic theme parks and museums throughout the country, including California.
The subject of the hearing was a 2010 fatal drowning accident at SeaWorld in Orlando, where a 40-year-old trainer lost her life when a 22-foot-long orca grabbed her ponytail in his jaws and pulled her into the tank. She suffered drowning and blunt force trauma to her head, neck, and upper body, which proved fatal.
OSHA charged SeaWorld with a “willful” violation of safety regulations and levied a $75,000 fine. During the recent hearing, the judge reduced the violation from “willful” to “serious,” noting that SeaWorld did have safety measures in place.
However, the judge also ruled that it was “feasible” to require trainers to stay behind a barrier when working with whales and other animals in order to prevent accidents such as the 2010 death. OSHA is expected to begin requiring these barriers, effectively ending shows in which trainers and animals work in close contact.
Workplace injuries can occur both in high-profile jobs like theme park attractions and in everyday workplaces. If you’ve been injured on the job in southern California, the knowledgeable San Diego workplace injury lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.