Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
January 25, 2013 - 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 Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Acting Director Steve Arwood reminds Michigan residents to stay safe on the slopes this ski season.
"Ski safety is a top priority," said Arwood. "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. It's so very important for children and adults to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding and be extremely careful while getting on or off chairlifts - whether you're experienced in snow sports or a beginner. 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 LARA to ensure compliance with national standards and the Michigan Ski Area Safety Act of 1962, the first in the nation. LARA staff issue permits to operate, and assure safe operation by inspecting ski areas and ski lifts annually, both before and during operation. Michigan law requires that mechanical failures and accidents involving ski lifts be reported.
Many accidents involving ski lifts are caused by horseplay and irresponsible behavior. Arwood 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," said Arwood.
Additional recommendations for safe and courteous skiing and snowboarding include:
LARA 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 and emergency drive systems, brakes, and anti-rollback mechanisms). The State of Michigan and its ski areas have doing load testing every five (5) years since 1978 which exceeds the national standard of requiring load testing of ski lifts every seven (7) years - a requirement only since 2000.
For more information, go to LARA's Ski Area Safety website at www.michigan.gov/ski
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