OSHA Focuses on Safety at Colorado Ski Resorts

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducts inspections of businesses annually to ensure employers are adhering to safety regulations. The administration identifies any safety risks and fines employers for violations. The intent is to increase safety and reduce the number of on-the-job accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace.

In response to OSHA's yearly employer survey and the findings of a Government Accountability Office 2009 report, the administration is focusing on employee safety at ski resorts. According to John Healy, OSHA's area office director, the number of inspections at resort businesses will be increasing. Additionally, the administration's budget has grown to allow for the hiring of additional inspectors, which will help the increased scrutiny of ski resort businesses.

Why is OSHA Focusing on Ski Resorts?

Ski resorts are considered a "high hazard business" due to the annual accident and injury reports. Employees working in the ski industry are considered at a higher risk then employee's working in other industries. For this reason, OSHA inspectors are looking for any regulation violations intended to improve employee safety. Some regulations recently violated by ski resorts include failing to wear required personal protection equipment, employee exposure to known hazards, inadequate employee avalanche mitigation training and failure to follow safety protocols.

Any safety violations discovered by OSHA inspections can be fined and the employers must correct the violation to meet federal safety violations. The fine amounts will increase upon repeat violations. The increased scrutiny, inspections and penalties are intended to bring high-risk businesses, like ski resorts, in line with federal safety regulations to reduce the risk of injury to resort employees. Hopefully, lessening the chance of tragic fatal work-place accidents, such as the recent death of ski patroller Scott Kay at Wolf Creek ski resort last November.

In response to an increased focus by OSHA, the National Ski Areas Association will be concentrating on preparing for the upcoming increased inspections and also the enhanced federal regulation of the ski resort industry.