The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing added attention to
the risk management plans of ski areas and resorts
By Jim Timlick
Risk management has been part of day-to-day opera-tions
of ski areas for about as long as tow ropes and
snow groomers have been around.
While that remains the case this season, the
COVID-19 pandemic is bringing even more attention to the
importance of having the correct risk management plan in
place to ensure the safety of guests and staff.
“The biggest thing (with coronavirus) is it’s like any
form of negligence. You have to follow the standards and
regulations, and standards of care that are applicable to
you regardless of where you are,” said Tommy Thomassie,
a leading risk assessment expert and chief risk officer for
Prime Insurance Company.
“You have to pull the local regs (regulations), the state regs,
the federal regs and CDC regs, the World Health Organization
standards. The best-case scenario that we tell everybody is
to take all of those, follow them and then some. If you’re
following all the different regulations, the chances of a court
finding you negligent are going to be pretty slim.”
In addition, Thomassie advises operators of ski hills and
ski areas to adopt the same kind of common-sense measures
other businesses have, including temperature checks,
regularly testing staff for COVID-19 and encouraging sick
workers to remain at home.
With all of the heightened awareness regarding risk manage-ment
this season, Thomassie says now is an appropriate time
for ski area operators to review their existing policies and
procedures to ensure they meet their current circumstances.
The most important thing, he says, is ensuring the
customer’s well-being remains top of mind whenever there
is any kind of unfortunate incident. That includes ensuring
there is a plan in place to respond to such incidents rather
than coming up with a response on the fly.
“Things can go awry, and someone’s dream or vacation is
shattered. The best of the best have all this in place, and they
do the training and they have everybody lined up to behave
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