Winter has arrived. And in Colorado, winters are known for attracting an influx of out-of-state visitors who come for the beautiful scenery and excellent skiing. Skiing can be a dangerous sport; skiers can fly down the side of a mountain at great speeds, dodging trees and boulders.
For people who work at ski areas, the dangers of workplace injuries may be even greater. Employees often find themselves in rough terrain or in danger themselves when they are working to protect other skiers.
For one ski resort, the beginning of the skiing season is looking grim after a ski-patrol director was crushed to death in an avalanche. He had been on duty and was working on a slope to mitigate the possibilities of an avalanche after a heavy storm that weekend. This is the first ski patroller death in over 20 years.
Though there is currently little information regarding the man’s death, the article notes that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may look into this incident. OSHA’s role is to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps to prevent a work-related accident by regulating workplace safety procedures.
In this specific incident, an investigation by OSHA will determine whether the man’s employer had followed federal regulations to ensure the safety of its employees, even out on the slopes.
The man who died left behind a wife and children who are no doubt grieving over their loss and will have to continue on without the love and support of their father. Financially, it can be a very stressful time for the man’s wife, as she may have relied on her husband to provide.
If the investigation reveals that the man’s death was in fact work-related, his family may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The process itself to attain these benefits can be confusing, but it will help to alleviate much of the financial burden his family may face.
Source: The Denver Post online, “Wolf Creek ski-patrol director dies in avalanche,” Jason Blevins, 23 November 2010