Ski season in Colorado also brings avalanche dangers for workers

It’s that time of year again: ski and snowboard season. Colorado residents have already had some time to hit the slopes and enjoy some fun outdoor activities. And as visitors continue to flock into the state to enjoy the slopes, resort and ski hill personnel are on the lookout for dangerous conditions, such as avalanche conditions.

But ski and snowboard instructors, resort maintenance managers and even lift operators are also at risk of a crush injury or even death if trapped in an avalanche. Earlier this week, The Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s announced that there is a considerable danger of an avalanche in the mountains.

Employees who spend a lot of time on the slopes should be properly trained on how to identify avalanche conditions and what to do in case of an avalanche. A snowy mountain may look safe, but if there are thick layers of snow a human could trigger a snow slide.

While humans can trigger an avalanche, the danger of an avalanche can increase after a snowstorm. Strong winds can cause the snow to move around and settle in different places. According to Colorado Avalanche Information Center deputy executive director, “what wind will do is move new snow around, and that makes cohesive layers of snow. When the snow gains cohesion and you have breaks in the snow, the snow can break over a large area.”

Ski resort employees who do suffer an injury as a result of an avalanche or other workplace accident may have to deal with significant medical expenses in the weeks and months following. For many, workers’ compensation benefits can help with those extra costs as well as ensure that a worker can receive the medical attention he or she needs to recover quickly. Ski season is no fun if it is spent in a hospital.

Source: The Denver Post, “Avalanche danger considerable in mountains, “Tom McGhee, Jan. 1, 2014.

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