Trainer safety in question
September 11, 2011. Orlando, Florida – More than a year and a half after the death of Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld, the tragic incident is still alive and well in court. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is suing SeaWorld over its lack of safety for the park’s killer whale trainers.
The park was fined $75,000 last August over safety violations related to Brancheau’s death, as reported by COASTER-net. OSHA’s investigations uncovered increased violations, leading to the lawsuit.
According to wtsp.com, a Florida news station, OSHA uncovered that the theme park would give new employees a “Tilli Talk,” and trainers were given a warning that getting in the water with Tilikum, the whale that killed Brancheau, could result in serious injury or death. However, SeaWorld has denied these allegations.
Additionally, OSHA has questioned how SeaWorld has changed their stadiums and shows since the accident. When asked, SeaWorld executives stated they “couldn’t remember,” about the changes. SeaWorld told news stations last year about the changes they had made to keep trainers safe, in direct conflict of the administrators’ lack of recollection.
SeaWorld has stated that these changes were not “an admission that killer whales are dangerous,” according to wtsp.com. Despite all of OSHA’s doubts, though, trainers have not since been in the water with the whales.
SeaWorld is being questioned by OSHA about its trainer safety.
In correlation with the lawsuit, Brancheau’s family is fighting the release of the video of Brancheau’s death. SeaWorld surveillance cameras caught the entire incident, and the trainer’s widower, Scott Brancheau wished the tape to be sealed. Florida has barred the video from being shown, but this does not apply to OSHA, only to media and SeaWorld.
Much to the distress of the family, OSHA has refused to guarantee the confidentiality of the video, according to wesh.com, another Orlando news site. OSHA has been given until September 12th to respond to the family’s pleas by an Orlando federal judge.
OSHA’s hearing for the SeaWorld investigation is to be held on September 19th. COASTER-net.com will be following the story as more updates are released.