Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Non-Event

    A few days ago I read the professional magazine Resource which is the periodical organ of my professional society the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.   The entire issue was devoted to safety.   It was especially interesting to me because I have done work in safety of agricultural machinery; in particular agricultural tractors.  This issue presented a broad scope of standards and regulations for promulgating safety.   I was especially taken with an observation of what constitutes a non-event related to safety.   In short, the author described a farm transporting machinery down a road at dusk with all the appropriate flashing lights and warning signs in action encountering a van operator coming the other way.   They passed each other without incident.  Each went on their way safely.   The point is that standards and regulations create actions and devices that keep us safe from accident events and we should celebrate the many non-events that occur.
      So now that I have your attention, what does this have to do with skiing?   All this prompted me to doing some research on standards and regulations to promulgate safe skiing.   Remarkably, I discovered there are no federal regulation that apply to ski resort operation.   States have jurisdiction.   Therefore if you ski in several different states you will have to be aware of any special differences of that state.  As a skier where do you look for guidance on safety on the slopes?  I have found that the Snow Sports Safety Foundation provides some interesting insights.
      They have published a safety pyramid as shown below.

        Primary responsibility is with the participant.   The greatest onus is on the snow sports enthusiast to behave responsibly.  Next is personal equipment.  Binding checks and adjustment for instance.   Also helmets meeting a safety standard would be in this area.   Of course we also should expect resort operations and management that keeps us safe.   On that note as a geezer skier, my pet peeve is the hazard of snow making on an open slope.   My one most major injury was related to a snow making hazard.  Here is a quote from the Foundation about facilities management and operation that is relevant.

"The resorts appear to fear that any documented standards, safety plans or performance analysis could lead to a pubic expectation of accountability that would threaten continuing court enforcement  of the strong liability protections they enjoy. The resorts clearly value their liability protections over the safety of their patrons."
     
The base of the pyramid is public policy and so on.   There is really no public policy on safety, regulation is more or less state specific,  so that leaves case law as the base driving force for improvement in safety.  Unfortunately a skier or boarder who experiences an injury ostensibly due to a safety issue will have to sue to affect any change in safety standards.   

       Back to my opening on a non-event.   I was fortunate to ski for about 800 days of non-events before I had my most serious accident.   I would hope for more than that before my next crash.  For geezer skiers non-events are essential for our continued participation.   So advice to ourselves is minimize hazardous behavior,  wear a helmet and keep the gear in adjustment,   and be aware that the resort will protect their own interests ahead of our safety.  

       






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