Ski resort fined in worker death
California’s worker safety agency has fined Squaw Valley Ski Holdings for an accident at the Squaw Valley resort last year in which a ski patroller working on avalanche control operations was killed.
Cal/OSHA cited two “serious” violations in the Jan. 24 death of 42-year-old Joe Zuiches.
Zuiches died about 8:35 a.m. at the top of the Gold Coast Ridge after exploding a hand charge containing ammonium nitrate, Squaw Valley officials said at the time of the incident.
In its citations, Cal/ OSHA described the charge as weighing 1.8 pounds with a cap and fuse with a 90-second burn rate that exploded near Zuiches’ torso.
The resort had failed to implement a safety procedure associated with hang cord entanglements during hang cord blasting operations, Cal/OSHA said. The penalty for the violation was $11,250.
The second serious violation was that the avalanche blasting crew failed to ensure all members maintained visual contact and awareness of the location of all workers during avalanche control activities, Cal/OSHA said. The penalty was $9,000.
According to the citations, Zuiches was part of a four-person team that was operating in two pairs doing avalanche blasting operations on Gold Coast Ridge.
Zuiches told his partner to go ahead and meet the other team while he performed the blast, the report said. Zuiches’ colleague met up with the other members and then heard a couple of explosions. When the group radioed to Zuiches they received no answer. After another failed attempt to reach him, the employees went to his last known location and found his body, the report said.