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SeaWorld is in hot water with OSHA

SeaWorld is in hot water with OSHA again after the marine theme park refused to provide personnel to speak with the agency in a follow-up to its recent citations. OSHA cited SeaWorld in August 2010, six months after Tilikum, a six-ton killer whale, drowned a SeaWorld trainer during a show. OSHA now has to see if the violation related to trainers’ exposure to struck-by and drowning hazards when engaged in performances with killer whales has been corrected.

SeaWorld has filed a petition with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, seeking additional time to abate the violation regarding trainers’ interaction with killer whales. In the meantime, the marine park has refused to provide OSHA with managers to interview in the agency’s follow-up inspection. SeaWorld has since been subpoenaed to respond.

“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,” OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. “Abating safety and health hazards in the workplace needs to be as important to an employer as recognizing the hazards in the first place.”

Added Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health:

“Sea World needs to let OSHA do its job, which is to ensure that when a serious violation has been identified (involving a fatality in this case), the employer has taken appropriate action to address the problem to prevent future similar incidents. OSHA can't do that if Sea World refuses to cooperate. Does SeaWorld think it is above the law and doesn’t have to cooperate?”