Michigan is progressive in ski area safety

LANSING – Unlike any other state in the nation, Michigan is home to 50 licensed ski areas that operate more than 300 ski lifts ranging from rope tows to high-speed, detachable chairlifts. Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth Acting Director Andrew S. Levin reminds Michigan residents to stay safe on the slopes this ski season.

“Skiing safety is a priority,” said Levin. “We set safety standards to ensure that the estimated 2.3 million skiers who hit Michigan slopes each year have a great time and avoid injury. Wearing helmets while skiing or snowboarding and being extremely careful while getting on or off chairlifts is critically important for the safety of both children and adults and for experienced skiers, boarder and tubers as well as beginners. Mishaps around chairlifts account for the majority of ski lift-related injuries we see each year.”

Michigan’s ski areas and ski lifts are licensed and inspected by DELEG according to national standards and the Michigan Ski Area Safety Act of 1962, the first in the nation. A seven-member Ski Area Safety board is appointed from the industry and public alike, and a team of professionals is maintained to issue permits to operate, and assure safe operation by inspecting ski areas and ski lifts.

Michigan law requires that mechanical failures and accidents involving ski lifts be reported – many of which are caused by horseplay and irresponsible behavior on the slopes. Levin emphasized that prior to using any lift, riders must be familiar and knowledgeable about how to load, ride and unload safely. “If you don’t know or are uncertain about how to proceed, watch others and ask questions of the lift attendants, operators or other area personnel.”

DELEG annually inspects more than 300 active ski lifts according to state and national standards, both before and during operation. Michigan exceeds national standards by requiring earlier and more frequent load testing (loading lifts to simulate passengers to dynamically test main emergency drive systems, and anti-rollback mechanisms.) The State of Michigan and its ski areas have been doing load testing every five years since 1978 which exceeds the national standard of requiring load testing of ski lifts every seven years – a requirement only since 2000.

For more information, go to DELEG’s Ski Area Safety website at www.michigan.gov/ski.