Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
December 2005
Safety and Buildings Out on the Slopes

As we look forward to another winter in Wisconsin, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) Safety and Buildings (S & B) Division is busy at ski areas around the state conducting yearly inspections for compliance with the administrative rules.

One of the first items evaluated by the inspector is the review of maintenance and inspection logs performed by the owner/operator to verify that a third party has inspected ski lift wire ropes in the past 12 months.  Maintenance of lifts includes documentation of any structural or operational changes made since the previous season. 

All towers, chairs and components are inspected for structural integrity as are all stops, brakes and deropement switches.  Safety gates and emergency brakes are also tested.

The potential of stranding passengers high above the ski hill necessitates that all lifts have an auxiliary power source which is tested to assure that it is operational and can be used to unload a chair lift in the event of power outage or other emergency.

Along with equipment review and inspection is verification of operation and safety.  Personnel operating the lifts are required to be trained on emergency evacuation procedures in the past 12 months.  They must have a means of communicating from the top attendant to the bottom attendant by phone or walkie talkie. 

All ropeways must be clear of trees and other obstructions and required instructional and safety signs must be present and legible.  Loading/unloading areas are inspected for layout and signage and inspector also looks for any other hazards unique to these areas.

The health, safety and welfare of the state's residents, as well as visitors, is of utmost importance to Commerce.  The staff charged ski hill inspections take that responsibility seriously, as they work to help assure a safe ski season.

-- Tim Condon and Henry Kosarzycki

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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