OSHA issues $12,000 in fines for Ski Patrollers death to ski area.

While there they, they tack on another $5000 for a hand rail violation..

OSHA issued fines for $12,000 to Wolf Creek Ski Area over the death of one of their patrollers last fall. See Ski Patroller dies in Avalanche at Wolf Creek. If you have a major injury on the job or a death of an employee OSHA will show up and OSHA will fine you. Not help you, not understand what is going on if you are in the recreation business, just fine you.

In this case, they showed up to investigate the death of a ski patroller who died in an avalanche and issued another $5000 fine for a hand rail violation.

The first citation is for allowing an employee to do hazardous work, explosive work, alone. This is a serious violation and carries a $7000.00 fine.

The second citation is the railing citation which is a $5000 and another serious violation.
The third violation is also a serious violation which is allowing the explosives work to be done without a helmet. This also carries a $5000 fine.

I’m not sure what good a helmet is going to do in an Avalanche. I know it won’t do any good if there is an explosion. I’ve read almost 100 avalanche reports and investigations and never saw anything indicating a head injury was a major or contributing factor to the fatality or injury. Sure a helmet might protect you from minor injuries as you are tumbling, but it probably is not going to make a difference in whether you live or die.

If you wish to review the actual citation documents they can be found here.

My Response,

There are some rules that should not be broken no matter who you are or how much education or training you have. More importantly, no matter how short staffed or how much money you might be trying to save. Don’t do explosives work alone.

However, if you read the actual citation you will wonder how wearing helmets would have done anything. Here are the facts as OSHA found them in the OSHA citations.
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I have no idea what the exact cause of death is, however, OSHA would have put that in the report if it concerned a head injury.

At this point in time, between Jackson Hole’s fight (see 20 Year Veteran of Ski Patrol Dies performing avalanche control work) and this one. I would have to advise ski patrollers doing avalanche work to be issued helmets.

OSHA does not say what type of helmet so any ski helmet (Tupperware?) should work. It is stupid, but it will be cheaper until someone really wants to fight OSHA.

However, OSHA is correct, a helmet will stop head injuries, and injuries are as important to OSHA as stopping fatalities. Not a lot, not many, if any but a few.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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