Ski resort workers have one of the highest occupational injury rates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, skiing facilities had a recordable incident rate of 10 per every 100 full-time employees in 2018. Most of these are slips and falls, strains, and struck-by injuries. To help reduce the likelihood of injuries and improve the safety of ski resort workers, below are some recommendations for higher-risk positions.
- Use pre-hire functional capacity tests to ensure employees are physically capable of the position they are being hired for.
- Implement a formalized new hire orientation and training program.
- Empower employees to stop work when they don’t feel safe or see others at risk.
- Offer continuous safety training.
- Implement pre-shift safety meetings.
- Encourage employees to get their bodies prepared for work with a pre-job warm-up program.
- Implement a hazard recognition program.
- Promote healthy lifestyles.
Working in Cold Weather
- Always wear proper clothing.
- Warm up joints and muscles prior to work.
- Remove wet clothing.
- Protect high-risk body parts (ears, face, hands, feet).
- Train employees on signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.
Ski patrol and instructors are at the highest risk of injuries on the job. They deal with many scenarios that they cannot control and are often in motion. Not only are they at higher risk for injury, they are also tasked with treating or preventing injury to their clients.
- Conduct regular skill assessments.
- Avoid lone worker scenarios.
- Knee injuries are some of the most common and most severe injuries, consider knee safety training and encourage using knee braces.
- Implement a hydration and nutrition program.
- Consider body mechanics training.
o According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “highly significant” reductions in medical and lost time claims were observed when a nutrition and proprioceptive program was provided.
- Report and maintain near-miss logs.
- Train employees on first aid and bloodborne pathogens.
These employees are often younger and less experienced and tasked with assisting skiers on and off lifts while maintaining the grounds around the area. These tasks are physically demanding and put them at a much higher risk of struck-by types of injuries.
- Implement safe zones to avoid employees getting struck by lift chairs.
- More frequent assessments of less senior employees.
- Use buddy system to help each other avoid being struck by lift chairs.
- Implement a no-touch or low-touch policy.
- Ensure proper footwear to reduce slips and falls.
- Formalize a standard operation procedure.
People in the ski resort industry use many tools and equipment. Some are specific to the industry, while others are more common and may be considered recreational.
- Only adequately trained employees should operate equipment.
- Training should be specific to the piece of equipment being operated.
- Equipment inspections should be conducted before each use and documented daily.
- Any equipment should be red tagged if deficiencies are found.
- Specific PPE and gear should be required for each piece of equipment.
- Routes should be planned and inspected for use.
- Designated storage areas should be used when equipment is not in use.
- A strict seatbelt and mobile device use policy should be implemented.
Slips and falls are major contributors to injuries recorded by the ski resort industry and are concerns not only for workers but patrons, too.
- All common walkways should be maintained to minimize slip potential.
- Snow/ice removal plan should be in place.
- Entrances to buildings should be monitored.
- Carpet and non-slip flooring should be implemented where possible.
- Ice melt/sand gravel should be cleaned up on dry surfaces.
- Anti-slip footwear should be considered for specific tasks.
Recommended Additional Safety Programs to Implement
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Drug-Free Workplace
- Fall Protection
- Fatigue Management