Ski and ride school workers are most commonly injured on the job at resorts, with 67 reported injuries during the 2018-2019 season, a new report on Colorado’s ski industry shows.
Workers’ compensation carrier Pinnacol Assurance analyzed its claims data over the past five years to determine the most common injuries suffered by mountain resort workers and released a new report just as Colorado’s ski season kicks off.
Pinnacol found that other workers who more commonly suffered on-the-job injuries were patrol, lift operations and food and beverage workers.
“Ski and ride instructors are by far the largest group of employees on the job on any given day at most resorts, which creates a significantly higher exposure than smaller groups of workers,” Ellen Sarvay, Pinnacol safety consultant, said in a statement. “Also, the average ski and ride instructor spends about four to six hours per shift on the snow – which is longer than most other workers at these resorts.”
What’s going on with food and beverage workers?
Since many of them mare working at on-mountain restaurants, they must ski or ride to and from their posts each shift, increasing their injury risk, Sarvay explained.
Pinnacol, which reportedly covers about 60% of the employers in the state, also reported that the most frequent injury causes for workers at mountain resorts were:
- Falls on ice or snow
- Falls (same level)
- Twisting strains
Pinnacol’s data showed collisions, entanglements while exiting lift chairs and “catching an edge” are common sources of injury for workers.
Sarvay recommended some risk mitigation measures for resorts:
- Terrain management can create dedicated areas for ski and ride school operations, where they can control the environment for everyone involved.
- Resorts can create designated trails for employees who must ski and ride to and from their work areas, and they can also provide alternate modes of transport for employees to these areas, such as riding lifts to work stations.
- For employees who must ski or ride as part of their duties, employers should have policies in place that make expectations clear regarding what kind of skiing/riding is allowed on the clock, such as no jumps or bumps, no terrain park features, as well as equipment use.
- Resorts should conduct ski/ride ability testing for any employee who must ski/ride in order to ensure they can safely navigate the mountain to and from their work shifts.
- Awareness of and adherence to the National Ski Association’s Responsibility Code may also be helpful.
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