ORLANDO, Fla. – The federal government has fined SeaWorld Orlando $75,000 for three safety violations that led to the death of a trainer by a killer whale.
Dawn Brancheau, 40, was killed in February when a killer whale grabbed her hair and dragged her into a tank.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued three citations on Monday saying, among other things, "the employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees," MyFoxOrlando reported.
One of the three violations is considered "willful," or shows indifference or intentional disregard for employee safety. It was given for exposing workers to drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales.
"SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals," Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta, told MyFoxOrlando."Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals."
Two other "serious" citations were given, which indicate death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. One of those citations was for failing to install a stairway railing system beside the stage in Shamu Stadium.
The administration made many recommendations, including that SeaWorld ban trainers from entering the water with any killer whale unless they are protected "through the use of physical barriers, or through the use of decking systems, oxygen supply systems or other engineering or administrative controls," MyFoxOrlando reported.
SeaWorld has 15 days to appeal any part or all of the citations, the station reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.