Aspen Skiing Co. mandates helmets for employees | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Skiing Co. mandates helmets for employees

ASPEN – All Aspen Skiing Co. employees must wear helmets when they are on duty on the slopes this season, the company announced Wednesday.

The Skico required all salaried workers to wear helmets while on the slopes last season. That applied to roughly 500 employees ranging from public relations workers to mountain managers. All ski instructors who taught children were also required to wear helmets last year.

The expansion of the policy will require the ski patrol to wear helmets, as well as all ski instructors, regardless of whether they are teaching children or adults. The policy will affect “somewhere around 2,000” employees, according to Hanle.

“This is safety-driven,” he said. Research shows that helmets reduce the severity and frequency of head injuries, according to the Skico.

The expansion of the helmet policy is designed to set an example for visitors, although Hanle said surveys show that about 80 percent of its customers already wear lids while on the slopes. That is higher than the industry average, he said.

Helmets have caught on with skiers and riders over the last decade. Only about 25 percent of snowsliders wore helmets in the 2002-03 season, according to the National Ski Areas Association, a ski industry trade group. That increased to 57 percent by the 2009-10 season, the organization said.

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Skico mandated helmet use for all children enrolled in ski school classes starting in March 2002. It surveyed its own employees prior to last season and found widespread acceptance of a mandatory policy for employees but also “some push back,” Hanle said. The survey didn’t determine if employees of specific departments were opposed, he said.

Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan said in a statement that last season’s mandatory helmet policy for some employees was “well-received.”

“The new helmet policy will take our focus on safety to the next level,” he said.

All employees who are required to wear a helmet as part of the new policy will be provided one at no charge if they don’t already own a suitable lid, Skico said.

scondon@aspentimes.com