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Wildlife sanctuary fined after worker death


The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) said Monday it has fined WildCat Haven $5,600 for safety and health violations after an animal keeper was attacked and killed at the Sherwood sanctuary.

The sanctuary in rural Sherwood violated its two-person safety procedure and cage latches did not fully secure dangerous cougars, Oregon OSHA found.

“Sadly, as is so often the case, this workplace tragedy may have been prevented if the employer had followed and enforced its own guidelines when employees entered the cougar enclosures,” said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator.

Renee Radziwon Chapman was attempting to clean one of the cages at the sanctuary when one or more cougars attacked her on Nov. 9, 2013. The victim was working alone at the facility.

Oregon OSHA cited WildCat Haven for two serious violations, each with a penalty of $2,800. The investigation found the sanctuary violated its two-person safety procedure by allowing keepers to work alone on a frequent basis.

The second violation identified an inadequate latch design on the cougar cages. If the locks were not fully closed, they could inadvertently pop open. In order to fully secure the latch, keepers were required to enter the cage and attach a carabiner onto the latch’s lock fitting.

The enclosure itself was also poorly designed, with no separate entry door, officials said.

As a result, cougars in two separate chambers needed to be secured in order to safely enter.

The company has 30 days to appeal the citation.

The Oregonian reported that a statement responding to the OSHA decision was provided Monday by WildCat Haven attorney Dane Johnson, acknowledging the fines and sayings the two violations have “already been addressed.”

“OR-OSHA has notified us of its determination to issue two safety citations,” the statement reads in part. “Neither citation concerns the safety of the general public.”

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