An employee at an amusement park was killed by lightning. OSHA says the park could have done more to protect and train its employees.
The citation says employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck by lightning while working outdoors because Adventure Island did not follow its own procedures to shut down the rides on the day the employee was killed. The park has a lightning strike monitoring system that indicates activity within five miles.
Justin Inversso, a lifeguard, was injured in a lightning strike on Sept. 10, 2011, when he was working on the Key West Rapids Ride. He later died at a hospital. He turned 21 the day before his death.
Inversso was standing in two to three feet of water as he evacuated patrons from the side, according to authorities. He was taken out of the water by co-workers and given CPR.
OSHA handed Adventure Island a list of ways to abate the lightning hazard when thunderstorms approach. Among the abatement suggestions:
- obtain training from the providers of the existing strike monitoring system about how to interpret data
- supplement data from the existing monitoring system with information from the National Weather Service, and
- reevaluate time required to evacuate guests from rides, especially when employees are the last to evacuate and seek shelter.
OSHA said Adventure Island should also enforce these rules for employees during thunderstorms:
- stay away from pools and avoid contact with water
- don’t take refuge under tall, isolated objects, such as a tent or tree
- avoid metal fences, pipes, rails, utility poles and other electricity conductors, and
- put down any object that might conduct electricity, such as a rake, hoe or shovel.
Adventure Island is contesting the citation. Its parent company is SeaWorld, which has had its own problems with OSHA recently because of the death of a trainer who was pulled under water by a killer whale.
In a Tampa Tribune article on the Adventure Island fine, Gary Lopez, director of an Orlando-based tour planning company, said theme parks face a tough balancing act during inclement weather. “Do you go over the top, kick everybody out of the park and lose money?” Lopez is quoted as saying. “And if you don’t, there’s the liability issue.”
What do you think the parks should do in these situations? Do you think the OSHA fine is warranted? Let us know in the comments below.