What we can learn from Disney’s revised Cal/OSHA citations

Space Mountain at Disneyland

Citations originally issued on April 12, 2013, to The Walt Disney Co. dba Disneyland Resort, were amended on May 8, 2013 by Cal/OSHA, from $234,850 down to $82,025, according to Cal/OSHA’s website.

The investigation was launched as the result of a serious injury to an employee of HSG Professional Window Cleaners, Inc. that took place on November 21, 2012 when the worker was performing maintenance on the exterior of the Space Mountain attraction.

“The citations were reevaluated and amended based on new information provided by Disney after the citations were previously issued,” said DOSH chief Ellen Widess, as reported by the L.A. Times.

State law allows businesses that are cited by DOSH to either formally appeal their fines or hold informal settlement discussions.

Disney didn’t formally appeal the fines – which means that they held an informal conference and in that setting apparently were able to submit evidence that resulted in their fines being slashed.

But the remaining citations tell a disturbing story. Here are a few excerpts directly from Cal/OSHA’s amended citations:

On and prior to November 21,2012, the employer, Disneyland Resort, failed to implement and maintain all the required elements of their Injury and Illness Prevention Program including, but not limited to correcting unsafe work condition(s) and/or work practices, which are essential to their overall program.

Instance 1

Disneyland Resort failed to correct the unsafe work condition(s) and work practice of employees of both Disneyland Resort and HSG, Inc. accessing the upper and lower exterior platforms of a building (Space Mountain) by means of unsafe ladderways. The upper exterior platform with access provided by ladderway, and the ladderway floor opening on the lower exterior platform did not have a swinging gate or equivalent protection, nor was it offset, to prevent a person from walking directly into the openings, as required by Section 3212 of Title 8 CCR.

Instance 2

Disneyland Resort failed to correct the unsafe work condition(s) and work practice of employees of both Disneyland Resort and HSG Inc. accessing the upper exterior platform of a building (Space Mountain) to change lights and·perform other maintenance tasks without the protection of guardrails or personal fall protection, as required by Section 3210 of Title 8 CCR.

On and prior to November 21, 2012, Disneyland Resort failed to provide independent anchorages for support line(s) and safety line(s) on a building (Space Mountain) at

Disneyland Resort. Disneyland Resort allowed employees of HSG Inc. to connect support line(s) and safety line(s) to unapproved anchorages when they cleaned the exterior of Space Mountain from boatswain’s chairs and controlled descent apparatus (CDA).

This entire case is a huge black mark on the Disney Health and Safety Department.  The job of any safety professional is to identify and assess risk and find a way to manage said risk so as to avoid injuring anyone.  Disney blew that.  Their fines might have been reduced but their reputation remains quite tarnished.

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