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The elements of
valid claim were satisfied under OSHA Act because Sea World failed to keep the
workplace free of the hazard to which its employees were exposed. An employer
owes his employees the duty of care to which it was supposed to make sure that
its employee’s safety was guaranteed and taken care of and the measures were
put in place to see to it that the employees were not exposed to possible
causes of injury (Northrop, M. 2014). There was a breach of duty by Sea world
that breached her duty of care by failing to put in place measures that would
guarantee the safety of its employees, therefore, leading to the death of Dawn
Brancheau who was drowned by the killer whale while performing. The breach of
duty was a direct cause of injury because it leads Dawn Brancheau’s death who
was drowned by Tilikum the killer whale. Finally, the injury or damage caused
financial loss as it led to the death of Dawn Brancheau who was performing at
the time of her death.

OSHA enforces
workplace safety and health standards by setting and enforcing standards by
training, education, assistance, and outreach. It conducts planned and surprise
inspection of work sites covered by the OSHA Act to verify if it complies with
the set standards. Employee and employer representative accompanies OSHA’s
representative during the inspection (Kirby, D. 2012). If any violation is
found during the inspection an OSHA citation is issued by listing the alleged
violations, notices of penalties for each violation and an abatement period is
established. Penalties vary according to the nature of the violation and can be
civil or criminal. SeaWorld’s operant conditioning program rescue procedures
that are meant to “recall” or distract whales fro dangerous behavior had been
found and proven to be insufficient. There had been at least over seventeen
incidences where killer whales had ignored attempts to “recall” them from
unwanted behavior over time. In fact, the most recent recall attempts had not
been successful and had resulted in the deaths of Dawn Brancheau and Alexis
Martinez.

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This particular
case was under the federal court system. Part of the related jurisdictional
requirements was that the case involved the violation of U.S constitution
specifically the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA). SeaWorld failed to
put in place enough measures for its employees who were working with killer
whales. This exposed the employees to serious cases of injury that included
death. Another jurisdictional requirement was that the appeals court had
jurisdiction over the court, therefore, it was best placed to hear the case.
Furthermore, the case was of such importance because federal courts are
established under the U.S constitution to deliberate on disputes that involve
the constitution and the laws that have been enacted by the Congress. In this
particular situation, the case was involving the Occupational Health and Safety
Act (OSHA Act).

 The case was decided by a jury with the
majority rejecting SeaWorld’s challenge of a general duty clause violation
following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in February 2010. There was one
dissenting judge in that bench. The opinion of Judge Rodgers was that
imposition of the safety measures did not alter the essential nature of
SeaWorld’s business because it would not stop trainers performing with or
caring for whales. The majority judges in their ruling found out that the kind
of close contact between the trainers and the whales were not essential for
SeaWorld business as argued by them. They stated that prior to Dawn’s death in
2010 the trainers performed such waterworks activities as riding on and
swimming with killer whales in the deep water. They would also hug and lie down
next to whales during dry work on the slide out. SeaWorld had ceased those
interactions following the death of Miss Dawn over the past three years.
Trainers no longer perform waterworks and they use barriers and minimum
distance precautions during dry works. It was very clear that SeaWorld having adopted
those measures it was not essential to its ability to draw visitors, care for
whales and practice behaviors during shows. He was also of the opinion that the
risks of working with whales were well known and SeaWorld should have
anticipated the necessity for abating the risks as imposed after the accident.
He further asserts that the duty of providing safe workplace rests with the
employer and is not qualified by common law doctrines like an assumption of
risk. In the bench, there was a dissenting judge.

The dissenting
opinion of Judge Kavanaugh was that the department of labor had exceeded its
authority in attempting to prescribe risks that are “normal activities”
intrinsic to the industry. According to the dissenting judge, he cited the
obvious dangers of many sporting events and entertainment shows. Further, the
majority judges addressed the opinion of the dissenting judge by stating that
“No one has described SeaWorld’s killer whale performance as a “sport”. And Sea
world had also imposed some of the recommended measures such as prohibiting
trainers from being in the water with certain whales and increasing the
required distance between whales and trainers without harming its business.

I believe that the outcome of the case
was justified because of decision that Sea World should have done more to abate
the hazard. Sea world was aware of the hazards of drowning or injury when
working with the killer whales during performances. One of its killer whales
named Tilikum is known to have aggressive tendencies and it is documented to
have previously killed a trainer while at a marine park in British Columbia.
Some of its killer whales are also known to exhibit dangerous behaviors such as
biting trainers, pulling trainers into the water and lunging at trainers. Sea
World should have put in place precautionary measures to protect their
employees from hazards that they were exposed to when working with killer
whales, use of oxygen systems to help in breathing in the event of drowning
(Kirby, D. 2012). With all this knowledge SeaWorld was better placed to have
put in place enough safety measures to ensure the safety of its employees. It
had every reason to be proactive given that there was documented evidence of
people who had died while working closely with some of its killer whales. The
measures include but not limited to working from a distance when working with
killer whales, working behind a physical barrier. The measures would have
protected the trainers from harm.

 

 

 

 

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