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Incidence of injury among instructors

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Comparing the incidence of injury for ski or snowboard instructors versus other occupations, where do you think we might fit in? My guess is "higher than average" - despite the health and wellness benefits of an outdoor, active lifestyle, I'd say the demands placed upon an instructor, especially those who teach the "bulk" lesson (beginner and large groups) business, are very high and would produce many strain and sprain type injuries, leading to plenty of lost work days.

Of course, I'm looking for an angle to justify the expense of daily instructor training. Anyone have any scientific or anecdotal evidence that might suggest that employing a staff of instructors that trains regularly - not only to ski and teach better, but also to be more fit and avoid injury - is a staff that is far more productive, thereby making more contribution to the bottom line?
post #2 of 5
No real information, just 35 years of observing ski schools, but I'd say the kinds of work-limiting injuries I've seen mostly are the sort that you cannot train for: Getting hit by a non-student and skiing/boarding injuries. Any injuries from lifting, dealing with sharp ski edges, etc., should be things that standard training would cover. I've worked in ski schools with an average of maybe 40 regular instructors and another 30 newbie or children's program helper types, and the worker compensation cases I can recall involved getting hurt while boarding or skiing except for one guy who fell while walking in ski boots on a slippery drive. Training for new/kids program folks usually stress care in the approach to lifting fallen students, caution around chairlifts and rope tows and similar situations which might lead to work-loss injuries. You can't train much for sliding accidents.
post #3 of 5
I remember seeing a blurb about how a training program (similar to the Vermont ski safety video approach) helped to significantly reduce ACL injuries in ski school staff.

In my 10+ years of teaching, I've noticed that instructors who are "out of shape" tend to get injured more often.

I've also noticed that since the introduction of terrain parks, that there seems to be a lot of injuries (in terms of percentage) occurring in the park, particularly on rails. However, the most serious park injuries come from going big off jumps.

The vast majority of injuries on our staff occur outside of teaching. Daily training, if only in the sense of reducing free skiing time, would seem to automatically reduce injuries. Other than that, I would think it would be hard to show a direct relationship between general training and reduced injuries.

My personal suggestion is that an awareness program that listed staff injuries for the season would be the most productive step to take. Nagging out of shape people to get in shape and youngsters to not attempts tricks way out of their skill zone is like pushing string. Once you've got a list of injuries, it should be pretty obvious if there is any low hanging fruit to go after.
post #4 of 5
Figures don't lie, liars figure. This little burb should be to your advantage. There is almost always workman's comp numbers for ski schools. There should also be histories before and after training programs are instituted. If not the history of the type of injury should point to whether a training program can be justified or not.

If you can't justify a training program, you just haven't looked at the first sentence in this post enough.
post #5 of 5
When I was teaching, one year the corporation required us to be in an ACL injury prevention program. This involved lectures and films on avoiding the the movement patterns that tend to result in ACL injuries as well as a program of testing and prescriptive exercises intended to lead to symmetrical strengthening of the leg muscles. I can't say for certain this reduced our rate of injuries. These tended to be low anyway. It was generally known that if you put in for a workmens comp claim you would not be asked back the following season. The only exception to this seemed to be the favored son of an influential local developer who seemed to be out with an injury every other week, possibly occasioned by the amount of alcohol in his system. Other than that individual I can think of very few injuries. Most involved being hit from behind while teaching. It seemed to me that instructors tended to be in good physical condition and have a kind of enhanced awareness of what was around them that tended to prevent injury.
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