“Mr. Lewis would not have been killed if the primary attachment lanyard had been replaced due to aging and (wear) of the lanyard.”– Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Vail Resorts is not having a good time at Stowe. The bumper-to-bumper traffic during the driving commute and the massive lift lines have annoyed locals. The introduction of $30 paid parking on weekends and holidays for next season will likely not ease tensions either. Now, a $27,306 citation of Vail Resorts regarding the death of Scott Lewis, a 53-year-old zip line worker will likely not help the relationship either.
VTDigger reports that the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration(VOSHA) has cited Vail Resorts/Stowe for failing to remove hazards that were a part of the zipline experience. The hazard was the attachment lanyard, which was supposed to be replaced by a new one once a year. The lanyard which the worker was using at the time of the accident was four years old, as it was shipped to them in 2017, and was put into use in 2018. The investigation found that Vail “did not follow the instructions of Terra Nova LLC, the Utah manufacturer of the zipline, in retiring the attachment lanyard, known as the jane lanyard, made by Petzl, that Lewis was using.” Another finding was that “Vail Resorts did not train employees to inspect personal protective equipment, such as lanyards, helmets, and harnesses so that a piece of equipment could be retired according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.” The report from the state of Vermont can be viewed here.
Scott Lewis had worked at Stowe as a zipline employee for seven years. The situation unfolded last September as follows: “Lewis was zipping at up to 82 mph down line six of the Perry Merrill leg of the zipline, the last leg, on his way to meet a group of guests, when the lanyard failed. Lewis was thrown from the ZipTour ride and hit the decking of the cable bollard at the bottom of the line. He was found under a platform, his helmet off and his harness ripped. Despite CPR, he died of his injuries.”
One of the most damming portions of the report was email correspondence between Jamie Barrow, Director of Operations and Risk Management at Vail Resorts, and Eric Cylvick, the president of Terra Nova. In multiple emails, Jamie rejected “Terra Nova’s recommendation that the lanyards be replaced every year if they were under heavy use.” Here is one example of Jamie rejecting the claims that the lanyards be replaced every year:
“The term heavy use is undefinable. We are not willing to accept your change to another company’s retirement criteria without a clear safety alert or service bulletin per ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] We will continue to follow the Petzl retirement data that is clear and definitive.”
According to Ziprider, “the [Stowe] ZipTour® consists of three zip line spans, each with two cables side-by-side, totaling 10,193’ feet of riding cable (just under two miles in length), making it the 2nd longest zipline tour in the United States.” Stowe has yet to announce if they will be reopening the popular summer attraction.