Washington Skier Safety Act

Washington Skier Safety Act

ANNOTATED REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON

TITLE 70.  PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY 

CHAPTER 70.117.  SKIING AND COMMERCIAL SKI ACTIVITY

GO TO REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON ARCHIVE DIRECTORY

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 70.117.010 (2012)

§ 70.117.010. Ski area sign requirements

   Transferred.

§ 70.117.015. “Trails” or “runs” defined

   Transferred.

§ 70.117.020. Standard of conduct — Prohibited acts — Responsibility

   Transferred.

§ 70.117.025. Skiing outside of trails or boundaries — Notice of skier responsibility

   Transferred.

§ 70.117.030. Leaving scene of skiing accident — Penalty — Notice

   Transferred.

§ 70.117.040. Insurance requirements for operators

   Transferred.

§ 79A.45.010. Ski area sign requirements

   (1) The operator of any ski area shall maintain a sign system based on international or national standards and as may be required by the state parks and recreation commission.

All signs for instruction of the public shall be bold in design with wording short, simple, and to the point. All such signs shall be prominently placed.

Entrances to all machinery, operators’, and attendants’ rooms shall be posted to the effect that unauthorized persons are not permitted therein.

The sign “Working on Lift” or a similar warning sign shall be hung on the main disconnect switch and at control points for starting the auxiliary or prime mover when a person is working on the passenger tramway.

(2) All signs required for normal daytime operation shall be in place, and those pertaining to the tramway, lift, or tow operations shall be adequately lighted for night skiing.

(3) If a particular trail or run has been closed to the public by an operator, the operator shall place a notice thereof at the top of the trail or run involved, and no person shall ski on a run or trail which has been designated “Closed”.

(4) An operator shall place a notice at the embarking terminal or terminals of a lift or tow which has been closed that the lift or tow has been closed and that a person embarking on such a lift or tow shall be considered to be a trespasser.

(5) Any snow making machines or equipment shall be clearly visible and clearly marked. Snow grooming equipment or any other vehicles shall be equipped with a yellow flashing light at any time the vehicle is moving on or in the vicinity of a ski run; however, low profile vehicles, such as snowmobiles, may be identified in the alternative with a flag on a mast of not less than six feet in height.

(6) The operator of any ski area shall maintain a readily visible sign on each rope tow, wire rope tow, j-bar, t-bar, ski lift, or other similar device, advising the users of the device that:

   (a) Any person not familiar with the operation of the lift shall ask the operator thereof for assistance and/or instruction; and

   (b) The skiing-ability level recommended for users of the lift and the runs served by the device shall be classified “easiest”, “more difficult”, and “most difficult”.

§ 79A.45.020. “Trails” or “runs” defined

   As used in this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

   “Trails” or “runs” means those trails or runs that have been marked, signed, or designated by the ski area operator as ski trails or ski runs within the ski area boundary.

§ 79A.45.030. Standard of conduct — Prohibited acts — Responsibility

   (1) In addition to the specific requirements of this section, all skiers shall conduct themselves within the limits of their individual ability and shall not act in a manner that may contribute to the injury of themselves or any other person.

(2) No person shall:

   (a) Embark or disembark upon a ski lift except at a designated area;

   (b) Throw or expel any object from any tramway, ski lift, commercial skimobile, or other similar device while riding on the device;

   (c) Act in any manner while riding on a rope tow, wire rope tow, j-bar, t-bar, ski lift, or similar device that may interfere with the proper or safe operation of the lift or tow;

   (d) Wilfully engage in any type of conduct which may injure any person, or place any object in the uphill ski track which may cause another to fall, while traveling uphill on a ski lift; or

   (e) Cross the uphill track of a j-bar, t-bar, rope tow, wire rope tow, or other similar device except at designated locations.

(3) Every person shall maintain control of his or her speed and course at all times, and shall stay clear of any snowgrooming equipment, any vehicle, any lift tower, and any other equipment on the mountain.

(4) A person shall be the sole judge of his or her ability to negotiate any trail, run, or uphill track and no action shall be maintained against any operator by reason of the condition of the track, trail, or run unless the condition results from the negligence of the operator.

(5) Any person who boards a rope tow, wire rope tow, j-bar, t-bar, ski lift, or other similar device shall be presumed to have sufficient abilities to use the device. No liability shall attach to any operator or attendant for failure to instruct the person on the use of the device, but a person shall follow any written or verbal instructions that are given regarding the use.

(6) Because of the inherent risks in the sport of skiing all persons using the ski hill shall exercise reasonable care for their own safety. However, the primary duty shall be on the person skiing downhill to avoid any collision with any person or object below him or her.

(7) Any person skiing outside the confines of trails open for skiing or runs open for skiing within the ski area boundary shall be responsible for any injuries or losses resulting from his or her action.

(8) Any person on foot or on any type of sliding device shall be responsible for any collision whether the collision is with another person or with an object.

(9) A person embarking on a lift or tow without authority shall be considered to be a trespasser.

§ 79A.45.040. Skiing outside of trails or boundaries — Notice of skier responsibility

   Ski area operators shall place a notice of the provisions of RCW 79A.45.030(7) on their trail maps, at or near the ticket booth, and at the bottom of each ski lift or similar device.

§ 79A.45.050. Leaving scene of skiing accident — Penalty — Notice

   (1) Any person who is involved in a skiing accident and who departs from the scene of the accident without leaving personal identification or otherwise clearly identifying himself or herself before notifying the proper authorities or obtaining assistance, knowing that any other person involved in the accident is in need of medical or other assistance, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(2) An operator shall place a prominent notice containing the substance of this section in such places as are necessary to notify the public.

§ 79A.45.060. Insurance requirements for operators

   (1) Every tramway, ski lift, or commercial skimobile operator shall maintain liability insurance of not less than one hundred thousand dollars per person per accident and of not less than two hundred thousand dollars per accident.

(2) Every operator of a rope tow, wire rope tow, j-bar, t-bar, or similar device shall maintain liability insurance of not less than twenty-five thousand dollars per person per accident and of not less than fifty thousand dollars per accident.

(3) This section shall not apply to operators of tramways that are not open to the general public and that are operated without charge, except that this section shall apply to operators of tramways that are operated by schools, ski clubs, or similar organizations.

§ 79A.45.070. Skiing in an area or trail closed to the public — Penalty

   A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person knowingly skis in an area or on a ski trail, owned or controlled by a ski area operator, that is closed to the public and that has signs posted indicating the closure.


Study shows that head injuries are on the rise on the slopes even though more people are wearing helmets

Risk Homeostasis?

A study presented at the American College of Emergency Physicians(ACEP) showed that even with the increased use of helmets on ski slopes head injuries had

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 01: Alexandre Bilode...

increased. Overall injuries on the slopes have remained constant during the same period of time.

The study was based on a review of reports to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission‘s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) Overall helmet use increased from 36.7% to 57.99% during the study period.

The study looked at 68,761 head injuries during the 2004 through 2010 ski seasons. Males represented 68.8% of the injuries, snowboarders 57.9%, and riders between the ages of 11-017 representing 47.7%.

The one difference in the study was children under 10 years old, which showed a decrease in hade injuries dropping from 11.7% to 4.6%.

One brought out by the study was helmets are only good for impacts of 12-15 miles per hour. Most people ski and board faster than that. The true value of a helmet, 12-15 mph of impact protection should be put out there so more people understand what a helmet will and will not do. People are sold helmets with the idea that they will prevent head injuries. They only will prevent injuries in that narrow range of 0-15 mph; over that speed, you probably are going to have an injury.

There were two different ideas put forth as two why head injuries increased. The one idea with the least space about it was Risk Homeostasis or Target Risk. The other was:

My assumptions are that those increases parallel the increase in terrain park use and the level of difficulty and risk in these sports over the last decade,” Christensen said, “and also that we’re simply seeing more people reporting head injuries because there’s been more education and awareness around them.

However, Risk Homeostasiswill also support the greater use of terrain parks and the increased level of difficult and increased risk undertaken by skiers and riders.

English: Freestyle skiing jump

English: Freestyle skiing jump (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do Something

If you sell helmets tell people the truth. Helmets will reduce some head injuries. Helmets probably will not save your life because if you hit something hard enough to cause brain damage that a helmet will protect you from; you are going to receive other injuries that may kill you.

If you wear a helmet understand what your helmet will and will not do to protect your head.

See Head injuries on rise despite helmets

For additional articles on Risk Homeostasis see:

Risk homeostasis theory and traffic accidents: propositions, deductions and discussion of dissension in recent reactions

The Theory of Risk Homeostasis: Implications for Safety and Health

Target Risk: Dealing with the danger of death, disease and damage in everyday decisions

For additional articles on Helmets see:

A helmet manufacture understands the issues(Uvex, Mouthguards)          http://rec-law.us/xpxX6n

A new idea that makes sense in helmets: the Bern Hard Hat                         http://rec-law.us/yPerOd

Does being safe make us stupid? Studies say yes.                                          http://rec-law.us/Ao5BBD

Great article on why helmet laws are stupid                                                       http://rec-law.us/zeOaNH

Great editorial questioning why we need laws to “protect” us from ourselves.         http://rec-law.us/Ayswbo

Helmet death ignited by misconception and famous personalities                http://rec-law.us/wfa0ho

Helmets do not increase risk of a neck injury when skiing                              http://rec-law.us/wPOUiM

Helmets: why cycling, skiing, skateboarding helmets don’t work                   http://rec-law.us/RVsgkV

More information over the debate about ski helmets: Ski Helmets ineffective crashes were the wear is going faster than 12 miles per

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 01: Ryan St Onge of ...

hour                                                                     http://rec-law.us/z4CLkE

National Sporting Goods Association reports that Helmet use at US Ski Areas increased during the 2009-10 ski season                                                                                                 http://rec-law.us/zZTzqa

OSHA Officially recommending helmets for ski area employees                   http://rec-law.us/xo5yio

Other Voice on the Helmet Debate                                                                       http://rec-law.us/AzaU9Q

Recent UK poll shows that 10% of cyclists would quite biking if there was a compulsory helmet law.            http://rec-law.us/t1ByWk

Skiing/Boarding Helmets and what is the correct message                             http://rec-law.us/AzeCpS

What do you think? Leave a comment.

If you like this let your friends know or post it on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn

Copyright 2012 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

blog@rec-law.us

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Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law

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OSHA can close you down if they do not believe you are able to keep employees safe

Sea World can no longer allow trainers in the water with ORCAs after OSHA Administrative law judge ruling

More than two years ago a trainer at Sea World in Orlando Florida was killed by an ORCA (killer whale in the article). OSHA spent six months studying Sea World and how it dealt with ORCA’s. Sea World appealed OSHA’s ruling, and the administrative law judge followed OSHA’s findings to a great extent.

The basis of the ruling is there must be a barrier between trainers and ORCAs or trainers must be at a greater distance from the animals.

This to some extent will totally change the program that Sea World is so famous for.

Sea World Orlando

The reasoning allegedly behind the ruling was threefold:

·         None of the techniques that Sea World had developed to deal with problems did not work with the ORCA that killed the trainer. These actions included “slaps in the water and other signals devised to bring him under control.”

·         The statements that Sea World argued on ORCA behaviors were not based on science. ORCAs had been involved in four deaths.

·         Sea World had an inclination to blame trainers for problems.

The judge did not agree with the complete report. It lowered the fines substantially and found that Sea World was concerned with employee safety.

Do Something

I’ve said it (written it) dozens of times that litigation rarely puts someone out of business. Sea World is claiming that this will not change its program substantially. However, a federal agency does have a greater opportunity to close you down. This can range from the health department saying your kitchen must be closed or some state agency finding your waterfront to be out of regulation.

Sea World is big enough, has the power ($) to fight the fines and the imposition, to some extent, of the imposed rules.

The bottom line is twofold.

1.   Keeping employees safe must be as important as keeping your guests and participant’s safe.

2.   The battle to remain open is going to be with the government and its agencies in the future.

I’ve said for the past ten years that my practice has evolved from one of litigation prevention to access. Fighting to hold onto the right or opportunity to take people into the woods. This fight is going to be greater in the future than any fight of the past.

See Ruling Puts Distance Between Killer Whales and Trainers

What do you think? Leave a comment.

If you like this let your friends know or post it on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn

Copyright 2012 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

blog@rec-law.us

Twitter: RecreationLaw

Facebook: Rec.Law.Now

Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law

Blog:www.recreation-law.com

Mobile Site: http://m.recreation-law.com

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