A common misperception of today's topic will be that we are discussing Rhinoplasty. That is not the case. We are in fact discussing Rhinoplaster. Rhinoplasty, according to the Mayo Clinic, is “surgery that changes the shape of the nose. The motivation for rhinoplasty may be to change the appearance of the nose, improve breathing or both.” But let's hold the Mayo for a moment. Rhinoplaster, according to Bob's Cluttered Desk Medical Manual, is a procedure that “changes the shape of an employee with a large Rhinocerotidae, or as more commonly known, a big fat rhinoceros. The motivation for rhinoplaster may be to change the appearance of the employee, restrict breathing or both.”
Or the animal just stumbled into someone.
As reported here yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the Jacksonville Zoological Society Inc. for exposing employees to workplace safety hazards at the Jacksonville, Florida, zoo. The park faces proposed penalties of $14,661.
OSHA launched its inspection after a rhinoceros seriously injured a zookeeper. They allege the zoo failed to protect workers from recognized hazards when employees train and feed the rhinos, and for not notifying OSHA within 24 hours of the employee's hospitalization.
A review of the actual Citation and Notification of Penaltyreveals the zoo failed to keep employees safe while handling a resident rhinoceros (resi-rhino). It tells us that, “On or about February 26, 2019, at the rhinoceros training chute, employees caring, training and feeding a rhino were exposed to struck-by hazards in that the employer did not provide safety measures to limit the rhino's movement inside the chute when employees were working in close proximity to the rhino.”
I hope you got that. That “Struck-by hazard” would be a rhinoceros. Never put a resi-rhino in a training chute unless the rhino, or its handlers, are properly trained. Of course, I am not quite sure what kind of training chute we are talking about. If it was a parachute, it probably had to be a damn big one. If it was a trash chute, then the same observation applies. Either way the people below best be aware of what is coming their way. That could be one heck of a rhinoplaster procedure. It probably was a just narrow passageway for transferring the resi-rhino, but what fun is there in postulating that? We still don't know what makes it a training chute.
OSHA did not just stop with the leveling of a fine. They also made recommendations. Those suggestions were:
a) Provide a feeding tool to feed/reward the rhinos from distance to keep employees out of the reach of the rhino.
In other words, throw the food from across the fence.
b) Limit the possible movement of the rhinos at the chute using crossed bars, also known as “butt bars".
I don't know what a “Butt Bar” is, but it sounds like something with which, if you hold it wrong, you could really piss off the rhinoceros. Whatever they are, you can probably pick them up at Walmart, or get it on 2 day Amazon Prime.
c) Evaluate and adjust protocols and procedures that require close proximity to the rhinos to make them safe for the mammal keepers. Develop and implement a policy which describes how you will ensure that rhino keepers body parts are not present in the same unrestricted space as rhinos, except in rare circumstances as detailed in the policy.
In other words, don't stand in the freakin' rhino cage when a resi-rhino is present.
d) Provide a training program for all employees, regarding the struck-by, crush and other hazards associated with work in proximity to rhinos.
Translation: Teach employees not to be in a position to receive a rhinoplaster procedure.
The rhinoceros involved in this incident is named Archie, is 50 years old, and has lived at the zoo since 1975. The animal was still on display later that day with two other rhino's. For visitors that day he was the one with the form of a human outline drawn on his side.
You can't say the investigation wasn't thorough.
Not much information is available on the zookeeper, other than it was a female. She was conscious and talking while transported to the hospital with what are described as serious injuries, but she was discharged the next day.
There was no word on whether the zoo will take the penalty fee out of Archie's allowance.
So, the lesson today is that the best way to avoid a rhinoplaster procedure in the training chute is through the use of a Butt Bar, which hopefully isn't as bad as it sounds. I would hate to think the prevention is worse than the procedure itself.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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