June 7, 2012 3 Comments
You know, I think employers have an obligation to try and make a workplace as safe as possible, but some workplaces are inherently more dangerous than others. Among the more dangerous workplaces is working in the water with a killer whale. Now, you may not think this is a good idea (in fact, I’m pretty sure I’m philosophically opposed to having any cetaceans in captivity) and that Sea World needs to do all they can to limit danger to employees and make employees aware of risks, but somehow the idea of a federal judge deciding just how Sea World employees are allowed to interact with their Orcas really rubs me the wrong way:
MIAMI — The electrifying in-water duet between trainer and killer whales at SeaWorld will never be quite the same after a judge ruled recently that animal trainers must be better protected from the fearsome mammals during performances.
The animal trainers — who not so long ago kissed, rode on, hugged and were thrust into the air by the killer whales — must either remain at a greater distance from them, stand behind a physical barrier or use other devices to keep them safer during performances.
The ruling last week by Ken S. Welsch, a federal administrative law judge for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, came more than two years after the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer who was dragged underwater and killed by an orca at the SeaWorld park in Orlando. Visitors who were leaving the “Dine With Shamu” event watched the terrifying scene unfold.
Now, I’m glad we have OSHA to help keep workplaces safe, but there’s not exactly a raft of orca trainer deaths. Sure, you are more likely to die in this line of work than as a cashier at Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t mean that Sea World should not be allowed to continue the practice if they take all reasonable precautions.