BILLINGS, Mont. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited wildlife casting agency Animals of Montana Inc. for two safety violations following an inspection that began after a 24-year-old trainer was mauled to death in November 2012 while cleaning the enclosure of captive-bred grizzly bears at a Bozeman facility.
'This is a tragedy that could have - and should have - been prevented,' said Jeff Funke, the agency's area director in Billings. 'The use of a secondary holding area while cleaning cages is standard practice when working with animals capable of being dangerous to workers responsible for their care.'
OSHA cited Animals of Montana for one serious violation for allowing employees to have unrestricted, direct contact with grizzly bears. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The company was also cited for one other-than-serious violation involving the failure to report an occupational fatality within eight hours. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
The two citations carry a total of $9,000 in proposed fines. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Billings office at 406-247-7494.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.