State reports workplace deaths increase in ‘06
It’s time to “Play it Safe” at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR)—this new safety slogan is one of several initiatives the resort has started to increase workplace safety following a work-related death earlier this year.
The death of a CBMR Snocat driver, who was crushed by his own machine in January, led to a 10-week investigation by the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA fined the resort $63,000 and gave it a “willful” rating, the heaviest a business can receive.
CBMR general manager Randy Barrett says safety has always been a priority at the resort. He says the resort successfully contested OSHA’s rating, which was reduced to a “severe” citation. Barrett could not comment on what the reduced fine was.
Barrett says the Snocat incident did put a renewed focus on safety. As a direct result, he says, CBMR hired Lilly Hughes as the director of risk management. “We’re not starting without safety programs, but we’re appointing someone to make sure safety policies and programs are adhered to,” Barrett says of the new position.
Hughes says the resort vehicles inspected by OSHA were immediately fixed with proper safety mechanisms. Furthermore, all CBMR equipment now undergoes more rigorous maintenance and inspection. “Nothing gets out of the shop without at least two people looking at it,” Hughes says. In addition, equipment operators now have a clause in their employment contracts allowing them to refuse, without penalty, to operate a piece of equipment if they do not feel it is safe.
Hughes says the training regiment for equipment operators has also been structured better and includes more documentation. “OSHA never found anything wrong with our training, but we’re trying to specify our programs for the job and document them better,” Hughes says.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvements in workplace safety and health.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, work-related deaths increased 10 percent in 2006 to 137. Contact with equipment or objects is the third leading cause of injury, and resulted in 23 deaths last year, when four people were caught in machines.
A report released by OSHA in April said that safety mechanisms in the Snocat involved in the January incident had been bypassed, disengaging a brake that would automatically trigger if the Snocat driver opened the door or raised the armrest. According to the report, other pieces of resort equipment had also been modified in an unsafe manner.
CBMR has also been hosting more company-wide safety meetings this year.
Hughes says the intent is to get each employee to focus on safety.
Regarding the additional safety meetings, CBMR public relations director April Prout says, “We’re trying to make (safety) a part of our lifestyle and a part of our thought process.”
The “Play it Safe” slogan is another part of the renewed safety measures at CBMR. Mountain Operations officials and members of the Ski Patrol manned an informational tent at the base area last weekend with “Play it Safe” brochures and stickers. Barrett says the slogan is meant for both employees and resort guests.
“We look at safety two-fold,” says Barrett. “First, how do we make sure employees have a safe work environment, but also how can guests have the safest possible experience. We want to make sure everyone enjoys their first day, and their last day, on the hill,” Barrett says.
Hughes says Wells Fargo and Pinnacle, bankers, who provide the resort’s workers compensation program, performed a safety audit this summer and were quite pleased with the new changes.
As of Friday CBMR will be without a serious workplace injury for 200 days—and