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Snowmaker killed after sliding off an icy trail and striking a tree.

New York State Department of Health FACE Program
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 12NY001, 2013 Nov; :1-9
In January 2012, a 41 year-old male snowmaker (victim) at a ski resort suffered fatal injuries after slipping off a ski trail and striking a tree. On the day of the incident, the victim was assigned to work on an expert-rated ski run with a partner to connect the snow guns with water and compressed air. Both workers wore hard hats without chin straps, ear muffs and boots with microspikes. Neither of them carried a radio. At approximately 9 AM, the victim hooked up the last snow gun on the run and started walking down a lower trail (also expert rated) to get to a lift station. The lower trail was icy and not groomed. The partner took the lead traversing to the skiers left side that was less steep and then started descending. He was approximately 30 feet down the trail when he heard the victim calling for help. He turned around and saw the victim sliding down the middle of the trail in a seated position. The victim was trying to stop with his hands and feet but could not. As he was gaining speed, he slid past the partner towards the steeper side (at skiers-right) of the trail and into a wooded area. The partner quickly descended to reach the victim who was unconscious next to the base of a clump of trees. The partner then immediately walked down the trail to the lift station to use a phone to call the ski patrol. The ski patrol rescue team descended from the summit lodge and arrived on scene about 5 minutes after receiving the call. The rescuers extricated the victim and performed CPR while transporting him in a toboggan to the base area first aid station where the victim was pronounced dead by a coroner. CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: 1) Victim worked on a steep slippery trail covered by ice and snow; 2) Victim was unable to stop the uncontrolled descent; 3) The hard hat fell off victim's head during the fall since it did not have a chin strap. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS: New York State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (NY FACE) investigators concluded that to help prevent similar incidents from occurring, employers of ski resorts and areas should: 1) Conduct a job hazard analysis and implement a comprehensive fall prevention program; 2) Explore and implement feasible measures to reduce the frequency of maintenance for snowmaking equipment through upgrading, modifying, retrofitting or replacing the old equipment and system; 3) Groom steep and icy trails before allowing snowmaking staff on them; 4) Identify high risk areas for slips and falls and design and construct alternate routes for workers to travel; 5) Consult with manufacturers and their retail representatives to ensure the right selection of traction footwear for snowmakers and to understand the limitations of such footwear; 6) Provide snowmakers with ANSI Type II Class G hard hats with chin straps for head protection; 7) Provide snowmakers with training on fall prevention; and 8) Provide all snowmakers with radios and require them to carry the radios whenever they are working on the mountains. 9) Develop an emergency response plan to ensure a timely delivery of emergency medical service in case of worker injury.
Region-2; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Accidents; Traumatic-injuries; Work-environment; Environmental-hazards; Seasonal-activity; Machine-operators; Outdoors; Walking-surfaces; Fall-protection; Head-protective-equipment; Emergency-equipment; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Training; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Author Keywords: snowmaker; fall; icy surface; ski trail
New York State Department of Health FACE Program, Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention, Corning Tower, Room 1325, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-12NY001; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-220784
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New York State Department of Health. Health Research Incorporated