Albany, NY (December 15, 2009) - With ski season getting under way in New York State, Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith today reminded both ski areas and skiers of their responsibilities under the Labor Law. This is especially important in light of the fact that nine ski fatalities have taken place in New York State since 2006.
“New York is home to more ski areas than any other state in the nation, and our number one goal this ski season is to work with both skiers and ski areas to keep the public safe and prevent tragedies from happening,” said Commissioner Smith. “At the Labor Department, we complete about 450 inspections of ski areas each winter season. There is also a clear code of conduct under State Labor Law for both skiers and ski area operators to ensure maximum safety. We all have a responsibility to make sure that New Yorkers ski safely this winter.”
For passengers of mechanical devices that transport skiers, such as rope tows, chair lifts and t-bar lifts, Labor Law outlines clear responsibilities:.
- Familiarize yourself with the device.
- Remain on the device if it stops moving.
- Board and get off the device only at points designated by the ski area operator.
- Don’t throw anything off the device that could harm other skiers.
- Try not to wear loose clothing or accessories that can become tangled in the device.
- Do not ski in any area that you’re not supposed to be in.
- Don’t ski beyond your limits and abilities – if you’re a beginner and you’re going on a trail designated “most difficult,” chances are you’re not ready for it yet.
- Abide by the instructions of the ski area operator.
- Be in control. If you think you’re going too fast, you probably are.
- Don’t leave the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury to another party until the ski area operator arrives – unless you’re leaving to go get help.
- Don’t stop on a slope or trail in a place where stopping can cause a collision.
- Don’t remove, deface, alter or damage signage maintained by the ski operator.
For ski operators:
- Conduct employee training sessions at least once before the beginning of each season – for operators of trail maintenance equipment, passenger tramway attendants, and ski personnel charged with evacuating passengers from passenger tramways.
- Equip all trail maintenance vehicles with flashing or rotating lights.
- Post proper signage, including a “Warning to Skiers,” of the hazards associated with skiing.
- Mark with crossed poles things like snow-making equipment, electrical outlets, timing equipment, pipes, etc.
- In a central location, maintain information on the location of lifts, slopes and trails. Information should include the status of each trail – open or closed, the location of emergency communications or medical equipment, and the degree of difficulty on the trails (easier, more difficult, most difficult).
- Inspect each open ski slope at least twice a day to observe general conditions, such as ice patches or bare spots.
- Develop and maintain a written policy involving reckless conduct on the slopes.
- Report to the Commissioner of Labor by telephone any fatality within 24 hours.
To learn more about state laws concerning ski safety, please visit the Labor Department’s web site at www.labor.ny.gov. To report safety concerns at a particular ski area, please call (518) 457-2131.
For free copies of photos of an inspection at Maple Ski Ridge click here.
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