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OSHA fines circus for safety violation that injured 9 workers

A workplace accident in Rhode Island grabbed national attention a few months ago when eight performers and a circus staff member were seriously injured when a hanging device failed, sending the performers plummeting to the ground below. Some of our Ohio readers may have remembered hearing about the accident that left many people across the entire country wondering what an investigation might uncover about the accident.

After conducting a thorough investigation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has determined that the cause of the workplace accident was a carabiner clip that circus staff had improperly loaded causing it to snap and the performers to fall. The ninth worker was injured while on the ground when the rigging crashed to the ground.

OSHA concluded that the accident was a direct result of a "serious safety violation" and is proposing the maximum fine of $7,000. Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus disputes OSHA's findings though and is considering challenging the citation.

According to reports, those workers who were injured in the serious accident do appear to have recovered from their injuries though it did require extensive medical treatments, including dozens of collective surgeries. Our Ohio readers may be relieved to know that many of the workers are receiving workers' compensation to help pay for their medical bills and lost wages.

On top of facing the OSHA citation, Feld Entertainment may also face civil litigation if the performers who have sought the help of an attorney decide to file a personal injury claim against the circus company. Our readers will have to wait to see if this happens though.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "Circus cited for hair-hanging stunt that injured 9," Michelle R. Smith, Nov. 4, 2014

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