OSHA says more than one employee at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom near Allentown, PA, suffered heat-related illnesses while performing in encapsulated costumes last summer. Now the park’s parent company faces fines.
OSHA has fined Dorney Park owner Cedar Fair LP of Ohio $11,000.
A $7,000 serious violation of OSHA’s General Duty Clause was issued because employees working outdoors as costume characters performing shows in direct sunlight were exposed them to excessive heat which could, and in some cases did, result in heat-related illnesses.
OSHA doesn’t have a regulation dealing with heat-related illness, so it uses the GDC in cases like this.
The park’s owner also received another $4,000 in fines dealing with the recording of injuries on OSHA logs and providing the agency with injury information in a timely manner.
OSHA investigated beginning July 22, 2015, after an employee was hospitalized.
Hospitalizations must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours.
Cedar Fair has until Feb. 2 to accept the violations, begin informal negotiations with OSHA or contest them to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Dorney Park issued a statement, according to the Morning Call in Allentown, PA:
“We take great pride in creating a safe working environment by educating our valued employees on how to recognize the signs of any heat-related illness and arm them with the knowledge of when to take frequent water breaks plus shaded breaks.”
The park also said it’s reviewing the violations and would “challenge any inaccurate information.”
In hot weather, many amusement parks limit costumed employees to working for only 15 minutes at a time. Several employees will rotate – while some take a break after performing for 15 minutes, others take their place.
Cedar Fair had been fined $9,000 by OSHA in connection with heat hazards and illness in 2014.
In that incident, a teenage work reportedly collapsed on the job after working outdoors with hot cooking equipment. Cedar Fair contested the fines in that case.
Winter might seem like a strange time to issue OSHA fines involving heat-related illness, but due to the usual length of its investigations (just under six months), we could soon see more of these issued to other companies involving incidents in the summer of 2015.