OSHA is charged with enforcing workplace safety standards across the United States. The agency investigates workplace injuries and deaths in an effort to help create safer workplaces and identify safety measures to prevent future injuries. OSHA recently completed its workplace safety investigation into the death of Squaw Valley Patroller Joe Zuiches. He tragically died while conducting avalanche control work at the ski area on January 24 this year.
OSHA’s investigation into Zuiches’ death resulted in two citations for unsafe working conditions and a fine of just over $20,000. Naturally, Squaw Valley has appealed the citations.
We often forget that for the men and women who work on the mountain patrolling, teaching, grooming, making snow, maintaining lifts, equipment and countless other jobs, the mountain environment is their worksite. At times, it can be a fairly dangerous worksite.
I hope OSHA’s investigation will help Squaw and other ski areas develop safer workplace environments for their employees. The industry overall could do more to put a focus on workplace safety for those who work on the mountain.
My heart goes out to Joe Zuiches’ family after this tragic loss.
You can read more about the OSHA investigation and fines here: