The Ride: Money over Safety-17 yr old employee mangles arm on lift at Raging Buffalo

Today a 17 year old employee of the Raging Buffalo Snowboarding Ski Park in Algonquin, Illinois injured his arm on a lift.  Its reported the accident is serious requiring 30 emergency crew members to release the young man whose arm became lodged in the lift.  Due to the accident the snowboarding park will be closed on Monday March 3, 2014.  The park owners refers to all its employees as family and are asking for prayers for the young man who is not named due to he is under the age of 18.

Whenever, there is a accident at public parks it is often questioned, could this accident have been avoided.  Upon review of the national standards of Snow sports, it is stated that the training provided is an agreed upon standard which can be taught in the United States and abroad.  While the fact that passing the courses in writing is not particularly enforced, rather the adventure, safety measures may be one worth looking into further.

Level 3 Snow Boarder, Alpine instructor, Level one Noord, Clinician Examiner and Adapter Trainer, Eric Shekleton,Chairman of PSA AND AASI says, “I’ve been in a lot of exams and have not passed them all.”  Patrons of the Ragging Buffalo Snowboarding state in reviews of their experience as good to excellent for the most part.  But there are a few that really state things as an opportunity for improvement for which they are eagerly hoping for results.  For example, a middle ground for beginners to work their way up from the Bunny slopes, spectators not gathering at the bottom of slopes due to possible injury to snow boarders, better communication for schedules training classes, not over booking the parks with fundraisers and regular patrons, better safety measures.  The park has lifts and line ropes for the patrons to travel to destinations.

The park held the 2013 USASA competition and has some instructors who give good boarding lessons according to the patrons, so the only issue is management and its willingness to put safety over dollars.  The park does have two locations one in Algonquin and another in Cary, Illinois.


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Posted on 03/02/2014, in News, Sports and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’ve been responsible for my employee’s safety for years, and we’ve gone a very long time without any recordable incidents. I’ve been involved in various aspects of safety for over 25 years. This blog post totally misses the points about safety. On the one hand, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be investigating the accident to do a root cause analysis. It is very likely they will find violations of OSHA standard 1910.147 Lockout Tagout and 1910.212 machine guarding, as significantly contributing to the injury. These are not failures of money over safety as the blog title suggests, and I’m confident any issues cited by OSHA will be addressed immediately. This situation is typical – companies find out after an accident what could have prevented it. If OSHA requires changes and Raging Buffalo does not do them, then there is a case for money over safety. Until then, it’s a case of using this incident to educate employers about the various steps they can take to protect their employees.

    As far as the other points in the blog post – the issues of crowding or the presence of kids on the hills – these happen at all popular events. I’m not aware of a single accident at Raging Buffalo or any other park that required a person to go to the hospital that was caused by overcrowding. Even the complaints cited by the blog post don’t mention a single accident in all the years it has been open.

    The much more serious issues of safety are those cited by OSHA, and I’m confident Raging Buffalo will do the same as virtually every other employer and address those immediately. Other employers would do well to learn from this situation and modify their work settings to prevent accidents and OSHA investigations and prevent accidents in the future. OSHA has not started its investigation of Raging Buffalo yet, but companies can learn about prevention and make changes that cost little or no money and significantly improve employee safety. That’s the best possible lesson from this situation from a safety perspective.


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