OSHA Cites Walt Disney World Following Death of Monorail Driver and a Stage Actor at Theme Park

Monday, January 4, 2010
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Walt Disney World for safety violations following the fatality of a monorail driver in July and issued a recommendation letter concerning the death of an actor during a stage production at the theme park in August.

In early July, one worker was killed when two monorail trains collided while switching tracks. One was holding while another was being removed from the loop and transferred to the express loop where it would travel to the maintenance shop. The command was given for the switching operation to move one train to the express loop, but switch beams eight and nine were not locked into position or energized. When one train traveled in reverse it remained on the loop and struck the other train, fatally injuring the operator.

Walt Disney World is being cited with a serious violation for not providing a place of employment free from recognized hazards that could cause death or serious harm by exposing employees to struck-by collision hazards.

During the monorail investigation, inspectors observed three violations unrelated to the fatality. Two repeat violations are being cited for exposing employees to fall hazards without fall protection and not providing educational training for monorail employees in the use of a portable fire extinguisher. A serious violation was found as well in which a drill press did not have a guard installed.

Additionally, on Aug. 8, an actor was fatally injured from injuries sustained during the Pirates of the Caribbean tutorial stage show when he hit a concrete wall on a new stage, which had opened in July. While no OSHA violations are being proposed for the incident, the agency is recommending that employees rehearse on new stages before their first live performance.

"With the monorail, Disney should have put procedures in place that would have prevented the fatal crash from occurring," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Employers need to take effective and ongoing corrective action to protect the health and safety of their workers. In the case of the actor's death, OSHA feels that greater familiarity with the new stage might have changed the outcome."

OSHA has proposed a total of $44,000 in penalties against the company for the monorail incident, including a penalty of $7,000 for the serious violation related to the fatality, the maximum amount allowed for a serious citation.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal meeting with OSHA's area director or indicate that it plans to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Tampa Area Office, 5807 Breckenridge Parkway, Suite A; telephone 813-626-1177.

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