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OSHA embattled with Sea World over employee safety

Every Arizona worker should be able to go to work and feel safe. Unsafe working conditions can easily lead to dangerous workplace accidents. In order to make workplaces as safe as possible, there are state and federal laws to protect workers. These laws regulate employers conduct and set safety standards for each industry.

When these standards are not upheld, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration steps into to enforce the rules. OSHA will investigate a work accident to determine how and why the accident happened and figure out what needs to be done to prevent a similar accident in the future.

Sometimes, employers disagree with OSHA's assessment of the incident. This is the situation in a recent case between OSHA and the popular tourist destination SeaWorld. The two are currently involved in litigation over SeaWorld's safety standards. OSHA has recently labeled the park a repeat offender fined SeaWorld $38,500. According to OSHA, the parks' killer whale trainers are at risk for serious injury or death.

OSHA says that the park should have rules about how close trainers can get to the whales or that there should be physical barriers between the whales and the trainers. However, SeaWorld argues that it has implemented new safety standards after consulting with others in the industry.

This newest fine is just one in a series of disagreements between OSHA and the park stemming from the drowning death of a SeaWorld killer whale trainer in 2010.

Arizona employers who refuse to comply with OSHA standards will also be subjected to investigations and fines. When these safety lapses lead to a work accident, employees should know that they may be entitled to compensation. Workers' compensation may be available so that the employees do not have to bear financial consequences of their employers' negligence.

Source: WKMG, "OSHA fines SeaWorld $38,500 for safety violation," June 10, 2013

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