SAM Magazine--July 26, 2012--The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued two citations against Hunter Mountain, N.Y., following the January 18 death of a snowmaking employee who slipped on ice and slid 200 feet hitting a tree and a rock. The safety violations (each carry a fine of $4,250) claim that 1) Hunter did not train the employee in the limitations of the spiked footwear and 2) Hunter did not require the employee to carry a radio or other means of summoning help.
Hunter will dispute the claims during an informal conference. Russ Coloton, president of Hunter, told SAM, "We've got some evidence to produce that we feel will address the violations." To start, a radio was available to the employee, but he did not take it with him. As well, Coloton explained that ski patrol was out on the hill at the time of the accident and that it occurred within 1,000 feet of an emergency telephone--the same phone that was used to call the accident in.
The unfortunate incident happened at 8:55 a.m., just five minutes before the trail was to open--the trail had already been cleared by patrol.
How do they know if he was trained properly with the spikes anyway? I wouldnt want spikes at Hunter. Alot of fan guns mean alot of wires around. He also could of carried a small pick or even a hammer. Once you start to slide, you stop yourself by slaming the claw into the ice. What trail was he on? Also, what good would of the radio been if his head hit the rock? Most people have cell phones on them anyway. OSHA is just being OSHA. Puke.
1) Hunter did not train the employee in the limitations of the spiked footwear
You need to be trained to know that it's still possible to slip while wearing spikes? I don't think so.
and 2) Hunter did not require the employee to carry a radio or other means of summoning help.
It does seem like they should, although the odds of a radio surviving a fall and remaining attached to you if produces serious injury, seems rather low. That said, although they should require them to have radios/communication means on them, it seems incredibly unlikely that it would have helped in this situation.
The way OSHA looks at things seems bizarre, but I think they're point about communication might be valid. Sure, in this incident a radio would be useless. However, they still didn't provide him with a radio. They should have in general, and if he didn't have one, how many others also didn't have one?
OSHA tends to look at generalities, rather than specifics-- more like looking at the culture of safety at a particular place. Doesn't help, of course, when they don't explain the rationales behind their decisions.
I believe OSHA's logic is that if the snowmaker had a radio he could have called for help, either during his slide, or if he survived his crash into the tree. Regardless of if he could have possibly used it in this case, not having one prevented such use.
I believe certain (read fancy) radios can send out unique tonal distress signals now akin to the "I've fallen and can't get up" commercials on TV. That signal can be received by the foreman or whoever is manning the radios. If the snowmaker is seriously injured, he doesn't even need to speak, which can be very hard or impossible if you're injured sufficiently. Knowing what trail a snowmaker is assigned to and what his unique signal is, would allow quick arrival of other snowmakers, or other first aid personal such as the patrol which were on the mountain.
With respect to crampons and fan guns. I do not know if they are readily available or their price, but there are many strong compounds which do not conduct electricity. One off the top of my head is boron nitride (BN), which completely synthetic and one of its polymorphs is harder than diamonds!