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WildCat Haven Sherwood fined $5,600 for safety violations that led to death of animal keeper

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Cougar
Commons photo

Oregon OSHA fines WildCat Haven for safety violations following worker’s death

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) 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 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 last November. The victim was working alone at the facility.

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

WildCat Haven has 30 days to appeal the citation.

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