FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2006-34
Fidday, October 6, 2006

CONTACT:
Dean Fryer
Renée Bacchini
(415) 703-5050
Internet: http://www.dir.ca.gov


Cal/OSHA issues nearly $50,000 in citations to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Mammoth Lakes, CA—The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), today issued citations to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area totaling $49,865 following an investigation into the April 6, 2006 accident resulting in the death of three ski patrol employees.

"As a result of our investigation, inspectors determined that Mammoth Mountain Ski Area failed to have proper procedures in place to evaluate hazards associated with volcanic fumaroles and failed to provide training to employees performing rescue and medical duties associated with the dangerous fumaroles," said Len Welsh, Cal/OSHA acting chief. "If standard practices had been followed this catastrophic event might not have occurred."

On April 6, 2006, two employees who fell into a 20 foot cavity over a volcanic fumarole that was covered by snow and a third employee attempting to rescue them died from lack of oxygen due to the presence of carbon dioxide gas. In all, 20 employees involved in the rescue attempt were treated and released from the Mammoth Mountain Hospital after being checked out for potential adverse affect due to oxygen deficiency. Of the eight violations found, two were determined to be accident related.

The largest of the penalties was $18,000 each for the two serious accident related violations of Cal/OSHA regulations addressing training issues. The investigation also revealed that the employer failed to properly identify and evaluate the hazards for working near the areas of volcanic fumaroles, which were known to have high levels of carbon dioxide gas. A third serious citation was issued for not having proper warning signs to indicate a potentially hazardous situation at the location of the fumarole. 

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a violation of Cal/OSHA requirements. 

In addition to the three serious violations, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was issued general citations for not conducting proper internal atmosphere testing, not using proper engineering controls and not providing proper respirators for escape or rescue. 

California law provides that a company may appeal Cal/OSHA citations and penalties within 15 working days to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board in Sacramento. For more information on Cal/OSHA or the Department of Industrial Relations, please visit our Web site at www.dir.ca.gov

# # #