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New England Ski Area Operator Sets New Helmet Rules

Wikimedia Commons

The company that operates Maine's Sugarloaf USA and Sunday River, New Hampshire's Loon Mountain and seven other ski resorts will require its workers to wear safety helmets when using skis or snowboards on snow.

The move comes after the death of a Sugarloaf worker last season, and a federal fine.

Last March Alexander Witt, a Farmington resident, was working on a steep Sugarloaf trail when he lost his balance and tumbled a hundred yards downhill, without a helmet on. That's according to a report from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The report says Witt suffered blunt force trauma to his head, and was killed.

OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald says the agency fined Sugarloaf $11,408 for a serious violation of federal rules.

"The standard is clear that if protective equipment is required, then it should be supplied and used," he says.

Sugarloaf's parent company, Boyne Resorts, also developed a new corporate policy requiring staff to wear safety helmets when working the mountain. Company spokeswoman Julie Ard says policies varied from one mountain to the next, but now:

"We have implemented a helmet policy. It is a requirement now that all of our team members at all locations in the U.S. and Canada are wearing approved helmets when on snow or actually on a bicycle as well."

An official at the National Ski Areas Association says the industry in general is moving toward such policies, although there is no uniform standard.

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