Articles Posted in Employee Risk

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Not everyone thinks theme parks are the happiest places on earth. Parents of children might find it uncomfortable to learn that the people in the costumes at theme parks, those working on rides, and escorting guests through the resorts might be pedophiles on the prowl.

In several To Catch A Predator-style stings, police in Florida have recently arrested a number of Disney employees for child sex offenses. CNN conducted an investigation that found at least 35 Disney employees have been arrested since 2006 for sex crimes involving children. Some were caught with child porn on Disney property. One, a Disney World employee who oversaw ride repairs, was arrested when he arrived at a house thinking he was going to meet a 14 year-old girl. Instead he was arrested.

Just last month employees of Disney and Universal were arrested when they too showed up at a house planning to meet children. One was a concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, who thought he was going to “fulfill a fantasy” with a 14 year-old boy.

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Naples Bay Resort evacuated 24 hotel guests and 20 employees from its premises after an explosion occurred around 9am Thursday.

The Naples Daily News reported that an electrical worker installing meters at the Resort suffered first-, second- and possibly third-degree burns to his upper body from an electrical flash fire. The cause of the explosion is unknown and is being investigated.

The Naples Fire Chief stated that the electrician’s life was saved only because he was wearing a face shield, eye protection and a fire-resistant shirt. The fireball was reportedly hot enough to vaporize nearby metal. A hotel corridor sustained smoke damage. The electrician was a subcontractor for FPL. Damages were estimated at $20,000.

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Disney - Where Dreams Come True.jpgFederal investigators concluded after 2.5 years that the Disney monorail collision that killed a 21-year-old resort employee was caused in part by a lack of adequate safety protocols.

In a 14-page report, the National Transportation Safety Board cited employee errors as the primary causes of the accident, but added that “Walt Disney World Resort’s lack of standard operating procedures leading to an unsafe practice when reversing trains” was also a factor in the accident.

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Safety policies and procedures at hotels and resorts are keys to the safety of both guests and employees.

A simple light bulb change in the pool area of the Stonewall Resort and Conference Center in West Virginia resulted in a debilitating foot and ankle injury for a resort-employed electrician, who fell about 20 feet onto concrete, reported the West Virginia Record. The employee claims he received an electrical shock when changing the bulb, causing the fall from an extension ladder.

As a general rule, property owners have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition to protect against dangers of which the owner is aware, should be aware, or might reasonably foresee.

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Adding to recently updated injury reports and a bus crash injuring five people last month, a Disney worker died Monday morning from massive head injuries he suffered on Sunday while working at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The 52-year-old man was repairing “The Little Dip” portion of the Primeval Whirl roller coaster when a co-worker called 911, according to a Sun Sentinel report, which published the call transcript released by Reedy Creek Fire District, Walt Disney World’s municipal fire department:

“We need somebody right now,” a co-worker told a 911 dispatcher. “One of our maintenance guys got hit by a moving vehicle…He got in the way of a moving vehicle.”

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Wild elephants.jpgWild animal trainer deaths and injuries are beginning to pile up. The latest incidents occurred over the weekend when an 8,000-pound elephant backed into a trainer, 33-year-old Stephanie James, crushing her to death against the metal bars of a stall in the Knoxville, Tennessee Zoo. By all accounts, the elephant was not acting aggressively and was obeying commands. On Saturday, a zookeeper had two fingers bitten off by chimpanzees in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Earlier this year, the death of a SeaWorld orca trainer prompted an investigation into the subject of employee risk, by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The incident was said to be the worst tragedy in SeaWorld’s history. Still, there are enough killer-whale accidents with trainers recorded that SeaWorld shows an entire video of them as part of its trainer orientation program.

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SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World are both being sued in personal injury lawsuits involving employees at the theme parks who were killed on the job. The monorail driver killed in a train collision in July 2009 is suing Walt Disney World; the husband of a killer-whale trainer drowned by an orca last February is suing SeaWorld.

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As the Orlando Sentinel reports, Florida law gives employers near-ironclad protection from lawsuits prompted by injuries and fatalities occurring on the job. Former Governor Jeb Bush and Florida’s business lobby had championed an overhaul of the state’s workers’ compensation laws seven years ago, but critics say the system is slanted too heavily in favor of businesses.

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dreamstime_14471747.jpgSeaWorld said it will challenge the findings of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s six-month investigation of a killer whale trainer’s death. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the investigation concluded in a proposed $75,000 fine and proposed restrictions. The trainer’s death in February has been called the worst tragedy in SeaWorld’s 46-year history.

OSHA cited SeaWorld with one “willful” workplace-safety violation due to “known aggressive tendencies” from previous incidents and continued “unprotected contact” by trainers. Two lesser citations included one for not installing stairway railings on two bridges on the stage used for “Believe” killer-whale shows, and one for the lack of weatherproof enclosures on the outdoor electrical receptacles around SeaWorld’s orca complex.

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The February 24, 2010 death of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau prompted yet another investigation into the subject of employee risk, by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as an internal probe within SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

The Orlando Sentinel’s article chronicling incidents and accidents involving captive killer whales and their trainers says that SeaWorld estimates close to 2 million interactions between trainers and killer whales since 1964 – a “relative scarcity of injuries,” demonstrating a strong safety record. But there are enough killer-whale accidents with trainers recorded that SeaWorld shows an entire video of them as part of its trainer orientation program.

dreamstime_14471747.jpgFormer SeaWorld trainer Mark Simmons blames himself for the 2-inch-thick medical file he accumulated during his career, saying they were all the result of his mistakes, not the aggressive behavior of an orca. The injuries “were an inevitable consequence of a job that involves intense physical activity and close contact with animals that can be as big as a school bus.”