Sept. 6, 2018 – Kewaskum, WI – In February 2018 the Washington County Sheriff issued a report about a rescue call at Sunburst Ski Area, 8355 Prospect Drive in the Town of Kewaskum, involving a male employee trapped by a conveyor belt.
Washington County Deputies along with the Kewaskum Police Department and members of the Kewaskum Fire Department and West Bend Intercept responded to assist in the investigation and extrication of the subject. According to Captain Martin Schulteis the conveyor belt had to be cut; the belt was moved by a 6,000 pound counterweight.
An investigation into the incident determined that an employee of the ski area was performing maintenance underneath the conveyor belt when his arm was trapped. Kewaskum Fire Department was able to free the employee who was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
The U.S. Department of Labor was called along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA completed its inspection, found violations and proposed penalties of $48,041.
This week OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said Sunburst is contesting the findings.
“I just got word they (Sunburst) contested the citations so it will go before an Independent Occupational Safety Review Committee to make a final determination on whether the citation and penalties will be upheld or whether there will be some type of settlement talks,” Allen said.
Information below posted is public record at the OSHA website.
Case Status: PENDING ABATEMENT OF VIOLATIONS, PENDING PENALTY PAYMENT
Note: The following inspection has not been indicated as closed. Please be aware that the information shown may change, e.g. violations may be added or deleted. For open cases, in which a citation has been issued, the citation information may not be available for 5 days following receipt by the employer for Federal inspections or for 30 days following receipt by the employer for State inspections.
Some of the violation details in the report include: Safety requirements for scaffolding, The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).,
General requirements for all machines, and Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use.
Click HERE for more details from OSHA.
In terms of appeal, Allen said “some companies will agree to pay the penalties and abate all the issues and some will contest the citations and have settlement discussions or it will go further to a legal process and make a final determination.”
As far as resolving the violations in the OSHA write up, Allen said “technically the company doesn’t have to abate all the issues until everything has been resolved legally.”
“A lot of these cases will get resolved before it goes to a full legal process and they’ll get a settlement negotiation and they’ll come to some terms where they’ll abate the issues and the penalties will be reduced, but that is not always the case,” he said.
D.J. Burns, director of operations at the Sunburst Ski Area said shortly after the incident occurred OSHA’s inspectors arrived on site to review the work area where the injury occurred.
During that site visit OSHA staff alerted Sunburst to some potential improvements that could be made in order to help Sunburst ensure workplace safety.
“The case file is still open but an informal conference was held near the end of August and Sunburst provided notice of its intent to participate in an informal conference to all of its employees as required by OSHA,” Burns said. “The informal conference was held to discuss OSHA’s findings, potential methods to improve workplace safety and to discuss the alleged violations contained within OSHA’s notice.”
Burns is hoping OSHA will review improvements Sunburst has already made to its facility.
He said the culture of safety at Sunburst is vastly different than other ski resorts across the country.
“Our commitment to employee safety is such that we train all our senior management and management staff in CPR, First Aid, and AED,” said Burns. “That comes at a great cost but we want to ensure a safe workplace.”
“Sunburst also had the opportunity to inform OSHA of its ongoing work through the National Ski Areas Association in regard to best practices to ensure workplace safety at ski resorts throughout the United States,” said Burns.
On a closing note, Burns said “OSHA will follow up with a letter apprising Sunburst of any grouping of violations or elimination of violations and any reductions in associated fines.”
There is no date when a final decision will be made. Allen said it could “take up to a year to finalize.”
OSHA submitted a 17-page document. Click OSHA Friedl Ski 1293875 to view.