Jackson Hole Mt. Resort Requires Employees to Wear Helmets

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has joined Aspen Ski Company in requiring its estimated 800 on-mountain employees to wear helmets while on the slopes. Two years ago, the resort required its “leadership team,” which includes top-tier managers and directors, to wear helmets. “We strive to make our resort as safe as possible for our staff and guests,” said Jon Bishop, the resort’s risk and safety manager. “This year, we completed our transition to the workplace culture requiring all of our staff members to wear helmets.”

Zahan Billimoria, the communications director at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, said, “Overall, the response has been positive. I think it’s an adjustment for those on the mountain who have been skiing for decades. Helmets are relatively new to the sport. But now, they’re so light and a lot of the issues of earlier helmets have been addressed. They’re warm, you can hear, and people are finding they’re not very cumbersome.”

Employees can chose to wear helmets they already own, or they can wear ones issued by the resort for free. Most employees already have their own. “If you look at the trend nationwide, helmet usage is really, really pronounced in terms of the general public,” Bishop said. “Most of our staff are coming here with the helmet habit beforehand. For them to adopt the helmet policy is pretty easy.”

Helmet safety among ski resort employees became an issue in 2009 when Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patroller Kathryn Miller died of head injuries following a fall in Spacewalk Clouloir, a steep, rock-sided chute at the resort’s Rendezvous Mountain permit area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Wyoming Department of Employment cited the resort for failing to protect Ms. Miller, who was not wearing a helmet.

“We understand there are benefits as well as limitations to wearing a helmet,” Bishop said. “A helmet is not going to save you from every event. It does reduce the severity of head injuries, though. There’s an opportunity for us to make the work environment safer, and that’s what we’re doing.”

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