The Working Environment and Health Committee was reviewed in a decision on 2-1 that cleaning and feeding dives performed by employees of a Houston aquarium were not considered "scientific diving" to fall under a US occupational safety and health waiver commercial diving standard.
In Secretary of Labor v. Houston Aquarium Inc., on Friday, the Commission confirmed an administrative law sentenced decision and penalty of $ 4,500 against the Houston Aquarium, which operates a four-story entertainment complex called the Downtown Aquarium. in Houston. The aquarium deals with divers whose primary duty is to feed the animals and clean the tanks, which includes scrubbing the windows, the stones and the decorations to remove stools and food particles.
Following an OSHA inspection, the Houston Aquarium received five quotes with proposed penalties of nearly $ 20,000 for breaches of administrative diving standards in six of its water reservoirs. The aquarium acknowledged that one of its diving activities was an event dive, but claimed that its feeding and cleaning dives were actually "scientific diving" and therefore excluded. An administrative judge found that some of the aquarium operations were covered by the standard, but left other quotes and assessed a total penalty of $ 4,500.
The judge argued that the divers carried out at the aquarium were deficient in meeting the requirements of scientific diving "Must be solely for the purpose of performing scientific research" and found that the diver did not collect data on the animals or their environment.
To qualify as scientific diving under the OSHA exemption, the dive must be a necessary part of a scientific, research or training activity conducted by employees whose sole purpose of diving is to carry out scientific research and not include information that is usually associated with commercial diving.
The Commission confirmed the Judge's decision in shared decision. Although the aquarium "vaguely" referred to research, the majority of the Commission said it failed to identify a single example of a study or research project that it has performed, "much less one performed when feeding and cleaning". or to show that research was the only purpose of its feeding and cleaning dive.
As a result, the majority found that the aquarium's feeding and cleaning dives did not constitute "scientific dives" in the pure sense of the dive standard. The Commission confirmed the breach of the diving standard for its feeding and cleaning of dives in addition to the event divers and $ 4500 penalties.
Commission President Heather MacDougall deviates from the majority and notes that the aquarium is a member of the American Diversity of Underwater Sciences, and that its divers are all scientists "who receive extensive training and have dive certificates" and must perform dives in a manner that does not disturb or disrupt the marine environment.
She said in her distance that while It is undisputed that the commercial diving standard does not apply to scientific diving, it is less clear what is scientifically emerging and stated that her colleagues "unreasonably and unnecessarily reject the long-standing interpretation of the aquarium community's interpretation of their institutional diving activities ̵
"My colleague's decision today, achieved as a result of their science world decreasing , is unfortunate for the entire scientific dive community, because it unravels the stock of meticulous work achieved through termination and commentary collaboration and included the participation of various stakeholders – including the scientific dive community, which will find that the work was for nothing, "wrote Ms MacDouga ll.
The Houston Aquarium could not be reached for comment.