Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
December 2006
Making Sure Skiing is Safe in Wisconsin

Looking forward to another winter in Wisconsin, Commerce is busy at ski areas around the state conducting yearly inspections for compliance with the administrative rules found under COMM 33 - Passenger Ropeways.

Inspectors review maintenance and inspection logs performed by the owner/operator. These logs provide a number of items, including checking 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. Since inspections are conducted on a yearly basis, the opportunity to evaluate the previous year's maintenance provides the inspector with a history of the prior twelve months.

All towers, chairs and components are inspected for structural integrity. Tests are conducted to inspect all stops, brakes and deropement switches. Safety gates, which stop a lift or tow if a passenger has not exited the lift by a certain point after the unloading area, are tested. Emergency brakes are tested as well.

All lifts have an auxiliary power source. This auxiliary power is tested to ensure 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 for chair lifts in the past 12 months. Personnel operating the lifts must have a means of communicating from the top attendant to the bottom attendant. Phones or walkie-talkies can accomplish this.

All ropeways must be clear of trees/other obstructions. Inspection of safety features also includes verification of required instructional and safety signs, which must be present and legible. The loading/unloading areas are inspected for layout and signage. The inspector also looks for any other hazards unique to these areas.

-- 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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