New Ski Area Safety Legislation Proposed in Colorado

Bloch & Chapleau May 24th, 2021 Ski and Snowboard Accidents

New Ski Area Safety Legislation Proposed In Colorado.Bloch & Chapleau has been at the forefront of the effort to enact laws in Colorado to require ski areas to increase safety and transparency on the slopes. As previously indicated on this blog, Bloch & Chapleau proposed legislation to the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA) for the adoption of common-sense safety measures that would be easy and inexpensive for ski areas to implement, including:

  • installing video cameras in high collision areas, lift towers, and all chair lifts;
  • designating a formal investigator of all ski incidents;
  • mandating detailed reporting of all incidents;
  • ensuring adequate training of all ski operators and adequate staffing of all lifts;
  • requiring lift operators to stop lifts when riders experience trouble loading; and
  • free access to records such as Incident Report Cards.

Similarly, an advocacy group called Safe Slopes Colorado recently proposed an amendment to the Colorado Ski Safety Act, titled Ski Area Safety Plans and Accident Reporting (SB21-184), which would require ski areas  to “adopt and disclose safety plans, disclose seasonal ski accident statistics, and maintain an accident database.”

This legislation was sponsored by Colorado Senators Jessie Danielson and Tammy Story, as well as by many Colorado citizens, who considered the Bill a “no brainer.” Many of these supporters suffered severe injuries on the slopes, or even the loss of a loved one, and were denied access to basic information. For example, Denver resident Danilda Polanco’s 18-year-old nephew, Etthan Mañon, died skiing at Echo Mountain, despite ski patrollers reporting that only that he had a broken arm. The family was not able to determine Etthan’s actual cause of death because Echo Mountain refused to provide any further information.  Ms. Polanco strongly advocated for this legislation, which would require ski areas to publish detailed seasonal data on ski injuries and fatalities, as well as detailed incident reports.

Not surprisingly, the Bill was staunchly opposed by the Colorado ski area lobby, including Colorado Ski Country USA, which represents nearly every Colorado ski area. Unfortunately, the ski industry was able to convince the Colorado Senate’s Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee to vote down this proposed safety legislation, and it was never brought for a vote before the full Senate.

Despite this setback, Bloch & Chapleau continues its efforts to propose legislation to require Colorado ski areas to increase its safety measures, provide detailed reports of ski incidents, injuries, and fatalities, and to be transparent. Coloradoans and the guests who visit this state are entitled to this critical information.