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According to the OSHA News Release and the article from Orlando Sentinel, what were the specific violations present at SeaWorld?

  1. According to the OSHA News Release and the article from Orlando Sentinel, what were the specific violations present at SeaWorld?
  2. According to the OSHA News Release and the article from Orlando Sentinel, what are things that SeaWorld does to ensure employee safety?
  3. Discuss each side of the issue. What is SeaWorld's stance on employee safety? What does OSHA say about employee safety at SeaWorld? Which side of this employee safety issue do you agree with?
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing SeaWorld trainers to be in the water with whales? What are the advantages and disadvantages of prohibiting SeaWorld trainers from being in the water with whales?
  5. If you were an HR professional working at SeaWorld, how would you handle the risks involving employee safety? How would you explain the risks to an employee? What sort of risks would you have to disclose?
  6. If you were to design a safety program for SeaWorld, what would it look like? How would you include other departments or managers in this safety plan?

Second, read the case study and articles:

One of the most publicized cases regarding employee safety is SeaWorld v OSHA. Although there are a number of factors, most of the attention arose in August 2010, when SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed while interacting with a whale in Florida.

After the trainer's death, OSHA fined SeaWorld and stated that, "Feasible and acceptable means of abatement would prohibit animal trainers from working with killer whales, including "waterwork" or "dry work", unless the trainers are protected through the use of physical barriers or through the use of decking systems, oxygen supply systems or other engineering or administrative controls that provide the same or a greater level of protection for the trainers." SeaWorld pushed back on the suggestion that trainers should not be in the water with the whales.

For several years, SeaWorld and OSHA would struggle to settle the proper procedures to achieve employee safety. The public also became very involved through protesting or creating anti-SeaWorld webpages. There was even a controversial documentary produced that attacked SeaWorld and its unsafe practices. SeaWorld responded by posting an official statement on its website that claimed the video was propaganda, not a documentary. Many issues are still unresolved and a cause of heated arguments today.

Below are two articles containing information about events concerning employee safety at SeaWorld. The first is an official OSHA news release following Dawn Brancheau's death in August 2010. The second is a newspaper article from Orlando Sentinel that covers an important court case in 2011. Read the articles and answer the reflection questions below.

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