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VIDEO: Labor Department Encourages New Yorkers to Ski Safely

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Albany, NY (December 28, 2010) -

Ski Lift In the wake of the snowstorm that blanketed most of the East Coast, State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner today reminded both ski areas and skiers of their responsibilities under the Safety in Skiing Act.  This Labor Law established a code of conduct for downhill skiers and ski area operators in order to minimize the risk of injury to persons and property  engaged in the sport of downhill skiing.  This is especially important in light of the fact that 10 ski fatalities have taken place in New York State since 2006.

 “New York is a premier destination for skiers of all levels and we want to make sure that every one of them remains safe this ski season,” said Commissioner Gardner.  “Labor Department inspectors have been out for weeks now, inspecting ski areas and ensuring safety, but skiers also have a responsibility to take the proper safety measures.  The last thing we want is a needless tragedy to happen this ski season.”

New York is home to more ski areas than any other state in the nation.  The Department of Labor completes 450 inspections of ski areas each winter season.  

For passengers of mechanical devices that transport skiers, such as rope tows, chair lifts and t-bar lifts, Labor Law outlines clear responsibilities:

o    Familiarize yourself with the device.
o    Remain on the device if it stops moving.
o    Board and get off the device only at points designated by the ski area operator.
o    Don’t throw anything off the device that could harm other skiers.
o    Try not to wear loose clothing or accessories that can become tangled in the device.   

For skiers:

o    Do not ski in any area where you’re not supposed to be.
o    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.
o    Abide by the instructions of the ski area operator.  
o    Be in control.  If you think you’re going too fast, you probably are.  
o    Don’t leave the scene of an accident that results in personal injury to another party until the ski area operator arrives – unless you leave to go get help.
o    Don’t stop on a slope or trail in a place where stopping can cause a collision.
o    Don’t remove, deface, alter or damage signage maintained by the ski operator.

For ski operators:

o    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.
o    Equip all trail maintenance vehicles with flashing or rotating lights.
o    Post proper signage, including a “Warning to Skiers,” of the hazards associated with skiing.
o    Mark with crossed poles things like snow-making equipment, electrical outlets, timing equipment, pipes, etc.
o    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 of the trails (easier, more difficult, most difficult).
o    Inspect each open ski slope at least twice a day to observe general conditions, such as ice patches or bare spots.
o    Develop and maintain a written policy involving reckless conduct on the slopes.
o    Report any fatality to the Commissioner of Labor by telephone 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.  

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