Employee Safety at Jurassic World

How can an amusement park with a zoo full of dinosaurs ensure the safety of their employees?

Jurassic World is not just a story of survival for when Man Plays God with Nature, but one of employee safety. This film must be especially freighting for OSHA inspectors.

InGen might have selected Isla Nublar not just for its tropical environment for the genetically engineered dinosaurs, but as a way to escape US laws on employee safety. Shipping companies have registered vessels in foreign ports for decades to avoid US law. US companies open factories in other countries, so they can pay overseas employees a fraction of what they would pay a US employee with none of the strict safety laws.  InGen attorneys could have used a similar strategy to limit liability for employees who are killed or maimed by a dinosaur.

All states in the United States have laws on employee safety. California law states:

(a) Every employer shall furnish employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the employees therein.

(b) On multiemployer worksites, both construction and nonconstruction, citations may be issued only to the following categories of employers when the division has evidence that an employee was exposed to a hazard in violation of any requirement enforceable by the division:

(1) The employer whose employees were exposed to the hazard (the exposing employer).

(2) The employer who actually created the hazard (the creating employer).

(3) The employer who was responsible, by contract or through actual practice, for safety and health conditions on the worksite, which is the employer who had the authority for ensuring that the hazardous condition is corrected (the controlling employer).

(4) The employer who had the responsibility for actually correcting the hazard (the correcting employer). The employers listed in paragraphs (2) to (4), inclusive, of this subdivision may be cited regardless of whether their own employees were exposed to the hazard.

Cal Lab Code § 6400.

The Jurassic World paddocks were specifically designed for different dinosaurs to keep them from injuring employees and guests. However, the escape of the Indominus Rex, which resulted in the breach of the aviary, thus freeing Pterodactyls and Dimorphodons, which resulted in a mass casualty event for employees and island guests, equivalently highlights the dangers of working at the park.

Employee deaths at Jurassic World included two men at the Indominus Rex paddock, nearly the entire Asset Containment Unit killed by the Indominus Rex, the two ACU team members killed in the helicopter crash (caused by the CEO Simon Masrani, who was not a licensed helicopter pilot, thus recklessly endangering the lives of those flying with him), at least one employee by the old Jurassic Park entrance, and a substantial number of the InGen private security team killed by Raptors.

Flying_Pterodactyl_Jungle_Unsafe_1920

Masrani’s helicopter flight was the tipping point that put over 21,000 lives at risk. An unlicensed pilot should not have taken off with passengers for a combat mission to kill the Indominus Rex. The engagement ended with driving the Indominus Rex into breaching the aviary, which resulted in the loss of the helicopter after a mid-air collision with a Pterodactyl. The guest and employee casualties from the Pterodactyls and Dimorphodons would not have happened “but for” the crash of Masrani’s helicopter. Calling in additional forces would have been the reasonably prudent decision for keeping everyone at Jurassic World safe.

Perhaps the cruelest employee death was Zara, Claire’s personal assistant who was relegated to keeping an eye on Claire’s nephews Grey and Zach. It is a good bet Zara’s scope of employment did not include playing nanny, which ended with her being abducted by a Pterodactyl, dropped into the Monsasaurus tank, abducted again by a Pterodactyl, and then eaten by Monsasaurus. This highlights Jurassic World was neither “safe” or “healthful” for employees if they could become a hot lunch for escaped dinosaurs. Moreover, Zara might have had a discrimination claim based on national original that British women are inherently nannies.

Zara_MaryPoppins_3100

These deaths and injuries were all connected by the escape of the Indominus Rex. Jurassic World scientists literally and figuratively created the hazard of the Indominus Rex. The hybrid dinosaur would not have existed “but for” Jurassic World creating the creature with unknown physical abilities, heighten intelligence, and increased aggression from both “nature” and “nurture.” The fact the creature existed was a threat to employee safety.

A less dramatic issue of employee safety was the pig wrangler at the Raptor paddock. An employee who attempted to catch a running pig was pulled off a catwalk and landed in the Raptor pen. This entire high-risk activity could have been avoided if the pig wrangler had been clipped to a safety cable above the catwalk with a fall restraint in the event of being pulled over the side. The cost of installing these devices would be insignificant compared to a lawsuit for an employee eaten alive by Raptors.

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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.