‘Free Contact’ with Bears is a Recognized Hazard under the General Duty Clause

[tweetmeme]COLUMBIA TWP. — The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration will not cite Sam Mazzola over the fatal bear mauling that took place at his Columbia Township compound last year.

 Jule Hovi, area director of OSHA’s Toledo office, said investigators were unable to establish whether Brent Kandra was an employee of Mazzola’s at the time of his death following the Aug. 19 mauling.
Kandra

Kandra

But Hovi said that even though Mazzola wasn’t cited, that didn’t mean the investigation didn’t raise concerns about the hazards inherent in dealing with bears.

“Mr. Kandra was permitted to have unprotected or ‘free contact’ with a 400 lb. bear, which unfortunately resulted in fatal injuries,” Hovi wrote in a Dec. 17 letter to Mazzola. “Direct or free contact with dangerous animals such as bears, is a recognized hazard that is likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees and others.”

Mazzola hasn’t denied that Kandra once worked for him, but he said that on Aug. 19 Kandra was visiting him and his animals as a friend.

Mazzola’s lawyer, Jeff Brown, described Kandra as a former employee of Mazzola’s who had raised the bear that killed him from a cub.

Kandra was reportedly feeding Iroquois, one of several black bears Mazzola housed at the compound, when the bear attacked him. Mazzola has said he used a fire extinguisher to force the bear away from Kandra, who died about six hours later from his injuries.

Iroquois was euthanized at the request of Kandra’s family.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

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