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New rulings in death of SeaWorld trainer

by Leah Zanolla
Jun 1, 2012

New rulings have been made in the case regarding the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau. Brancheau died in 2010 when she was pulled underwater by a whale after a show. After the incident, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommended that SeaWorld install barriers between the whales and the trainers. This week, administrative law judge Ken Welsch said the barriers must remain up to protect trainers in the future, as they were a viable way to keep them safe. No evidence was brought forth to prove to him that SeaWorld's profits were being negatively affected by the barriers or the trainers staying out of the water. Park guests were still interested in seeing the newly redone show.

SeaWorld was in the process of appealing two citations that OSHA had issued them. Judge Welsch reduced the fines from $75,000 to $12,000. Dr. David Michaels, OSHA's assistant secretary of labor, said, "OSHA's intent has been to ensure the safety and health of employees who work with SeaWorld's killer whales in performances. In his decision, the judge has upheld the OSHA citations. That is a win for the employees of SeaWorld."

SeaWorld responded with a statement, saying the ruling vindicated them, even though they didn't agree with some of the findings, such as allegations of "willful violations." They haven't ruled out further action.



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