SeaWorld Is Not In Compliance With OSHA

Well, we knew that already. What’s new is that Judge Welsch–the Administrative Law Judge who upheld OSHA’s prescription that SeaWorld’s trainers maintain a safe distance from the killer whales unless there was a safety barrier between them–and local Florida media just noticed:

A federal judge believes SeaWorld had a duty to begin implementing new safety improvements required by workplace safety regulators last July, even while the theme park was fighting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in court.

Meanwhile, Local 6 has learned SeaWorld trainers continue to have extremely close physical contact with the killer whales, despite new OSHA requirements that trainers must remain behind a barrier when interacting with the animals during performances…[snip]

…Yet since July, Sea World trainers have continued to have close physical contact with killer whales. During Tuesday’s 2:30 p.m. performance of “One Ocean” at Shamu Stadium, Local 6 cameras recorded SeaWorld trainers touching, petting and dancing alongside killer whales without any barriers separating them.

In one segment of the show, a trainer standing on a submerged ledge leans his entire body on the killer whale and rubs its back with both arms.

Whew, it’s a good thing Local 6 finally “learned” what everyone who has been to a SeaWorld show has known since Welsch’s order was issued. And you have to wonder about a regulatory system that SeaWorld has been so good at either manipulating or ignoring.

7 thoughts on “SeaWorld Is Not In Compliance With OSHA”

  1. Isn’t it nice to know that OSHA is protecting us from ourselves? Heaven forbid we get into a job with killer whales thinking we might *gasp* come into contact with them! Wonder how many people even get injured working at SeaWorld – probably very few if any.

    1. Tiffany – there are some humans that actually do need protection from themselves or as the case may be from their employer.

      Wild orcas are not considered a real threat to humans as there have been so few documented cases of wild orcas attacking people and none of those documented cases has ever resulted in a fatality, see “Killer Whales of the World”. by Baird, Robin W. (2002) and “Killers of the Sea”, Edward R. Riciuti, New York, Walker & Co., 1973, pp. 232-233.

      On the other hand, there have been approximately two dozen documented cases perpetrated by captive orcas (many go undocumented for the obvious reason that entertainment faciltiies can do without the negative press because it would negatively affect their sales of tickets) since the 1970s, see
      “Sea World tragedy: How common are ‘killer whale’ attacks?” Christian Science Monitor, February 25, 2010 (The report does not include any incidents since 2010) and “The killers are getting cozy” by Klinkenburg, Jeff (17 December 1975). Experts cannot confirm or refute th and kenburg, Jeff (17 December 1975). “The killers are getting cozy”. The Miami News. Retrieved 8 March captive orca attacks on humans are accidents or attempts to cause harm.

      I have at least a dozen, if not two of news clipping that I am happy to share if anyone is interested. In fact Tim Zimmerman himself wrote a piece called “Blood in the Water” two years ago if I recall in July – am I right Tim?

      1. SeaWorld submitted more than 100 incident reports during the OSHA proceedings, while also admitting that the reporting system did not capture every incident. Here is the best catalogue of all the publicly known incidents over the years:

        I personally do not have a problem with trainers doing a job that they know is risky, as long as they know the full scope and nature of the risks. The issue is that SeaWorld has not always been very transparent with its trainers about incidents throughout its parks over the years. Dawn Brancheau’s death, for example, has never been detailed in an incident report. I suspect there is a tension for SeaWorld between being totally honest with trainers about the risks, and totally transparent when it comes to incidents, and promoting the killer whale shows as family fun with the lovable Shamu.

        “Blood In The Water,” which examines the death of Alexis Martinez at Loro Parque in great detail, and included analysis of the incident report, can be found here:

    1. you need to read “Death at SeaWorld”…by Kirby if you don’t believe accidents happen at Seaworld you are mistaken

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