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Mammoth Fined $50K in Patrol Deaths

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Many of us saw the tragedy at Mammoth unfold in the news last April as three ski patrollers were overcome from CO2 in a deep snow lined thermal vent. Some of us in industry and safety realized, there had to be some fundamental safety precautions, standard in most industrial settings, that would have prevented these deaths. California OSHA affirmed that opinion by issuing $50,000 in fines and issuing a harsh report.

Story in the LA-Times
post #2 of 14
Not harsh enough. When you put employees in that kind of danger and they die from it you should not be treated lightly.
I hope they learned from it. The cost in lives was outrageous
post #3 of 14
Please post details or a link to them.
post #4 of 14
Mammoth Ski Deaths Attract Steep Fines

By Hector Becerra, Times Staff Writer
3:06 PM PDT, October 6, 2006

The death of three ski patrollers earlier this year could have been prevented had Mammoth Mountain officials properly trained employees, posted warning signs and kept to procedures on performing rescues among dangerously toxic volcanic vents, state regulators said today.
See full story here
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'd love to post details. This has been swept pretty far under the carpet. I could probably get a public release from Cal-OSHA, but there is nothing on the net right now This is what is known as a mutual settlement agreement, and I'm sure there is a public release restriction clause. Care to guess what the civil liability is that remains? A civil mutual settlement agreement means at the minimum that Mammoth owner, operators do not admit to any wrongdoing whatsoever. They accept the fine, without any finding that might assist other litigation.

Mammoth raised its ticket price to $78 this year. Coincidence?

This is the proverbial "tip of the iceberg.

Our original thread where we guessed a what was yet to come.

post #6 of 14
From my viewpoint, a 50k fine for 3 fatalities amounts to a slap on the wrist. Cal-OSHA has a reputation for being fairly militant in terms of punishment.

The picture in your post shows a closed area that has a hazard that is marked with 2 or 3 concentric ropelines further closing the area to the public.

My guess is that Mammoth was beaten up for not having or using a confined space rescue plan. In this case there would have needed to have been SCBAs on site along with all the attendent raising equipment.

Pretty far fetched. What I will be curious to see is what sort of closure system that the Ski-co will put up at or near the fumurole that requires less maintenance and less direct hazard for the patrol to maintain.
post #7 of 14
That was a terrible time in town.

Hopefully now the mountain will take more serious care of their geothermally active areas.

I hope that we can find a way to make some good come from this tragedy now and make Mammoth a better place for guests and employees.

I also hope that the families of the fallen patrollers are doing better.


(Damn, I was so happy the Yankees lost. Now I feel sad again)


-nerd
post #8 of 14
Seems to me that a well anchored wire mesh applied across the surface and "hard anchored" .... so you can't fall or gain entry may have some merit.

The OSHA report would be of great interest; wonder how the area was "marked and signed"?

The problem with many of the "fixes" is that the more you warn and make it visible, the more of an "attractive nuisance" something becomes for the general public. Too many kids (16 to 20's).... are into the danger of "what's in there and how close can you get" .... and after three beers ... he will prove his macho ....
post #9 of 14
Nothing wrong with that Yuki, they call them Darwin Awards for a reason. "Watch this!"
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just keep in mind that you are talking about a 30 to 40 foot tall fence here in the Sierra. We trip over the top of trees in mid-winter here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post
Seems to me that a well anchored wire mesh applied across the surface and "hard anchored" .... so you can't fall or gain entry may have some merit.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Just keep in mind that you are talking about a 30 to 40 foot tall fence here in the Sierra. We trip over the top of trees in mid-winter here.

Exactly. The paperwork to erect something like that in a special use permit area makes me wince.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoof2 View Post
The tragedy occurred during a season when the resort saw more than a dozen deaths of skiers. State regulators said the patrollers had tools to effect a safer rescue and avoid serious injury, but were not trained on how to use them.
What were the causes of the other deaths at Mammoth last year?? That's a lot for one resort. My yearly ski trip out west will probably there this year, and I'd like to know what I'm getting myself into.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Just keep in mind that you are talking about a 30 to 40 foot tall fence here in the Sierra. We trip over the top of trees in mid-winter here.
If there is no quick fix to the problem what is the likelyhood that the ski area will just close off any terrain that might pose a problem. No doubt the insurance company and lawyers are taking a hard look at this before they open any areas where that particular hazard exists.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
eblackwelder, A thread HERE from last winter explains it. The incidents were unrelated, but had a big cumulative effect on the psychy.

Bill, There is no doubt been a lot of training put in to prevent future tragedies, and of course the tragedy itself was something everyone learned from. In this case, when a patroller fell in, the first fatality was assured, when two would-be rescuers were also killed, it became a classic accident scenario that might be preventable through training. Similar accidents have ocurred with utility workers, police, and firemen who have witnessed a co-worker fall in a pit or tunnel, then the rescuer also succums. This is a scenario most rescue workers are trained in. The combined hazard of CO2 and confined space is well known, but I suspect not recognized. This fumerole was always fenced off to keep someone from falling in. Nothing is more dangerous than the hazard you see everyday. The fumerole at Mammoth is relatively harmless as long as it is open to the air. It was the deep snowpack which allowed the heavier than air CO2 to accumulate to lethal levels, changing something seen everyday from a curiosity to a deadly trap.

I'm sure they will expand the perimeter of the closed area and enhance signs in the area. Of course now that everyone knows what can happen, it is very unlike to recur.
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