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SeaWorld still not safe enough for OSHA

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Apr 29, 2013 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and SeaWorld were back in court again last week. OSHA still says that SeaWorld's trainers are not as safe as they could be when working around the killer whales. OSHA previously imposed a regulation on the marine park stating that they "install physical barriers between its trainers and killer whales" or "require its trainers to maintain a minimum distance from the killer whales." These requirements must be completed by July 27. The exact minimum distance was not specified, so SeaWorld asked for a six-month extension to complete research on this distance.

SeaWorld has been working with other aquariums to determine exactly what that distance should be. SeaWorld Animal Training Curator Kelly Flaherty Clark spoke in court about the procedural changes SeaWorld had put in place. According to WKMG-TV, trainers are "now required to stay 3 feet away from killer whales if they are kneeling on a flat surface. Trainers must be 18 inches from the edge of the pool if they are standing near the whales. Trainers may still touch a killer whale or rub its back while standing next to the animal on a submerged ledge in the pool, as long as the trainer is positioned along the side of the animal's body between its blowhole and tail. The trainer must stay away from the whale's mouth and tail and have an escape route if the whale were to move." Clark did admit that it is possible for a whale to spin 360 degrees on the ledge.

When the hearing is done, the judge will determine if SeaWorld will be given the six-month extension.

After all the new safety measures are put into place, OSHA will come back and re-evaluate SeaWorld and their employee's safety.

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