Since the tragic skiing accident that killed Natasha Richardson a month ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about helmet usage while skiing and riding and I’ve finally gotten around to posting after I saw this press release from Vail Resorts. VR have announced that effective next season, “…the Company will require all employees to wear helmets when skiing or riding on the job at each of its five mountain resorts…”. They also will require helmet use for children under 12 in any lesson and any rental package – wow!
I personally wear helmet whenever I ski (as do my wife and daughter), but I am still leery about mandating safety equipment use such as helmets. I didn’t wear a helmet on the slopes until perhaps five years ago and I do think that it’s a personal choice that each person needs to make on their own. As a side note, I’ve seen only a few of our pro-patrollers wearing helmets, even though they are the people that most frequently see the consequences of not wearing a helmet.
As VR is a company a not a governmental entity, I think that their choice to require employee helmet use is a very good stance from a safety standpoint and I do applaud it; however, in light of the fact that their resorts are located on federal land – any thoughts about how federal labor laws may apply in this decision?