Mountain resort safety: Best practices

Over the years, we’ve spent time in our workshops covering each of these areas as separate topics — some of them multiple times! It is evident that, together, these best practices play an important role in preventing injuries and controlling costs. Resources for each of these areas were sent out to all attendees of our September 2019 MRSF. If you are looking for additional information on any of these topics, please feel free to reach out to your Pinnacol Safety Consultant.

Job Hazard Analysis

- Review NSAA and Pinnacol samples.

- Conduct annual review.

- Include high-level mitigation measures.

- Use to determine training needs, safety rules.

- Incorporate accident investigations.

Equipment Check — Employee Skis/Snowboards

- Check all on-mountain employees.

- Document checks.

- Consider employees on multiple sets of equipment.

- Require that while working, employees use only equipment that has been checked.

Ski/Ride Ability Testing

- Determine which employees to test — suggest Patrol, Lift Ops, F&B.

- Ensure employees don’t cross over to untested sport (e.g., start snowboarding midseason).

- Consider conditions at time of testing — an employee might appear better than they are!

- Document tests.

Safety Committee

- Meet at a minimum monthly during season and continue year-round.

- Keep agendas, minutes and documents.

- Include all major departments, with a mix of line, supervisor and management.

- Involve committee in facility inspections, accident investigation review and training.

- Be sure to give committee a worthwhile purpose — conducting walk-throughs, participating inJHAs, policy review, etc.

Training Tracking

- Use software systems (i.e., Mindflash, Safehold LMS system, Pinnacol JJ Keller system).

- Use departmental Excel spreadsheets.

- Make sure documentation is easily recoverable.

- Track onboarding as well as midseason start documentation.

Designated Routes

- Determine departments/employees who must use designated routes — typically Lift Ops/F&B.

- Adjust or have alternate routes for early season/low snow conditions.

- Document employee acknowledgment.

- Include expected skiing/riding behaviors — e.g., no jumping, no trees, slower speeds.

- Align routes with ski/ride ability.

- Know the Code — compliance with Colorado’s skier and snowboarder responsibility code.

- Make clear rules distinguishing between skiing/riding when working and when off the clock.

- Enforce!

Accident Investigation

- Conduct investigations for ALL accidents.

- Fill out employee and supervisor forms.

- Review by risk manager/safety committee.

- Look for root cause and how to prevent recurrence.

- Check to see if modifications are needed to JHAs, safety rules, training.

- Include unique info for resorts: location on mountain, weather and snow conditions, number of hours on shift, last time employee ate, how many hours of sleep.

- Include near misses.

Emergency Planning

- OSHA requirements.

- Safehold Special Risk Ski Resort Disaster Management Guide.

- Training/emergency evacuation drills.

- Communication/media.

- Local agency involvement.

Wellness Programs

- Yoga/preseason conditioning.

- Knee evaluations.

- Sleep hygiene.

- Employee assistance programs.

- Ski/ride specific programs including Fit for Snow and ACL Strong.

- Mental health-focused programs.