SeaWorld fined $75,000 for whale trainer's death

August 23, 2010 11:47:37 AM PDT
The federal job safety agency fined SeaWorld Orlando $75,000 on Monday for three violations uncovered while investigating the February death of a trainer who was grabbed by a killer whale and dragged underwater.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration categorized the most serious violation as "willful," or showing indifference or intentional disregard for employee safety. That citation, carrying a $70,000 penalty, was for exposing workers to drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales.

The agency proposes not allowing trainers to have any physical contact with the killer whale responsible for trainer Dawn Brancheau's death in February unless protected by a physical barrier.

It also suggests that trainers not play with other killer whales at the park, either in the water or out of water, unless they are protected by a barrier or deck.

The second citation, deemed serious, was for failing to install a stairway railing system beside the stage in Shamu Stadium. That citation carried a $5,000 penalty.

The third citation was considered "other-than-serious" and was for failing to have weather-protected electrical receptacles at the stadium. That citation didn't have a penalty.

SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said the park will contest the citation.

"SeaWorld disagrees with the unfounded allegations made by OSHA today," Jacobs said in a statement.


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