Ski Area Facilities and Operations

Chapter 296-59 WAC

WAC 296-59-115 Ski lift facilities and structures.

(1) Existing ski lift facilities and structures shall not be required to be retrofitted with standard construction work platforms, walkways, stairs or guardrails on exterior surfaces when such features would add significantly to snow loading considerations. When such standard protective features are omitted, alternative personal protective measures shall be used where possible. Examples include but are not limited to: Safety belt and lanyard, ladder climbing safety devices, temporary work platforms or scaffolds, temporary or removable handrails, guardrails, or walkways.

(2) Snow removal.

(a) During the operating season, standard guardrails which would interfere with snow removal may be omitted in areas where it can be anticipated that frequent snow removal will be necessary to maintain operability of ski lift apparatus. Examples could include but are not limited to the motor house roof or loading and unloading areas.

(b) Personnel barricades, signs, or other devices shall be used to deflect traffic or warn personnel of existing fall hazards.

(3) All ski lift towers installed after the effective date of this standard shall be equipped with permanent ladders or steps which meet the following minimum requirements:

(a) The minimum design live load shall be a single concentrated load of two hundred pounds.

(b) The number and position of additional concentrated live load units of two hundred pounds each as determined from anticipated usage of the ladder shall be considered in the design.

(c) The live loads imposed by persons occupying the ladder shall be considered to be concentrated at such points as will cause the maximum stress in the structural member being considered.

(d) The weight of the ladder and attached appurtenances together with the live load shall be considered in the design of rails and fastenings.

(e) All rungs shall have a minimum diameter of three-fourths inch.

(f) The distance between rungs on steps shall not exceed twelve inches and shall be uniform throughout the ladder length. The top rung shall be located at the level of the landing or equipment served by the ladder.

(g) The minimum clear length of rungs or steps shall be sixteen inches on new installations.

(h) Rungs, cleats, and steps shall be free of sharp edges, burrs, or projections which may be a hazard.

(i) The rungs of an individual-rung ladder shall be so designed that the foot cannot slide off the end. (A suggested design is shown in Figure D-1, at the end of this section.)

(j) Side rails which might be used as a climbing aid shall be of such cross sections as to afford adequate gripping surface without sharp edges or burrs.

(k) Fastenings. Fastenings shall be an integral part of fixed ladder design.

(l) All splices made by whatever means shall meet design requirements as noted in (a) of this subsection. All splices and connections shall have smooth transition with original members and with no sharp or extensive projections.

(m) Adequate means shall be employed to protect dissimilar metals from electrolytic action when such metals are joined.

(n) Welding. All welding shall be in accordance with the “Code for Welding in Building Construction” (AWS D1.0-1966).

(o) Protection from deterioration. Metal ladders and appurtenances shall be painted or otherwise treated to resist corrosion and rusting when location demands.

(4) Installation and clearance.

(a) Pitch.

(i) The preferred pitch of fixed ladders is between the range of seventy-five degrees and ninety degrees with the horizontal (Figure D-4).

(ii) Substandard pitch. Fixed ladders shall be considered as substandard if they are installed within the substandard pitch range of forty-five and seventy-five degrees with the horizontal. Substandard fixed ladders are permitted only where it is found necessary to meet conditions of installation. This substandard pitch range is considered as a critical range to be avoided, if possible.

(iii) Pitch greater than ninety degrees. Ladders having a pitch in excess of ninety degrees with the horizontal are prohibited.

(b) Clearances.

(i) The perpendicular distance from the centerline of the rungs to the nearest permanent object on the climbing side of the ladder shall be thirty-six inches for a pitch of seventy-six degrees, and thirty inches for a pitch of ninety degrees (Figure D-2), with minimum clearances for intermediate pitches varying between these two limits in proportion to the slope.

(ii) A clear width of at least fifteen inches shall be provided each way from the centerline of the ladder in the climbing space.

(iii) The side rails of through or side-step ladder extensions shall extend three and one-half feet above parapets and landings.

(A) For through ladder extensions, the rungs shall be omitted from the extension and shall have not less than eighteen nor more than twenty-four inches clearance between rails.

(B) For side-step or offset fixed ladder sections, at landings, the side rails and rungs shall be carried to the next regular rung beyond or above the three and one-half feet minimum.

(iv) Grab bars shall be spaced by a continuation of the rung spacing when they are located in the horizontal position. Vertical grab bars shall have the same spacing as the ladder side rails. Grab bar diameters shall be the equivalent of the round-rung diameters.

(v) Clearance in back of ladder. The distance from the centerline of rungs, cleats, or steps to the nearest permanent object in back of the ladder shall be not less than seven inches, except that when unavoidable obstructions are encountered, minimum clearances as shown in Figure D-3 shall be provided.

(vi) Clearance in back of grab bar. The distance from the centerline of the grab bar to the nearest permanent object in back of the grab bars shall be not less than four inches. Grab bars shall not protrude on the climbing side beyond the rungs of the ladder which they serve.

(c) The step-across distance from the nearest edge of a ladder to the nearest edge of the equipment or structure shall be not more than twelve inches, or less than two and one-half inches. However, the step-across distance may be as much as twenty inches provided:

(i) The climber is wearing a safety belt and lanyard; and

(ii) The lanyard is attached to the tower structure before the climber steps off the ladder.

(5) Ski lift towers are not required to be equipped with ladder cages, platforms or landings.

(6) Maintenance and use.

(a) All ladders shall be maintained in a safe condition. All ladders shall be inspected regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure.

(b) When ascending or descending, the climber must face the ladder.

(c) Personnel shall not ascend or descend ladders while carrying tools or materials which could interfere with the free use of both hands.

(7) Personnel shall be provided with and shall use ladder safety devices or safety belt and lanyard whenever feasible.

(8) Personnel shall not place mobile equipment or personal equipment such as skis, ski poles, or large tools within the falling radius of the lift tower while climbing or working on the lift tower.

(9) Ski lift towers and terminals are not required to be equipped with sheave guards on the haulrope wheels.

(10) Ski lift towers are not required to be equipped with work platforms.

(11) Personnel shall use personal protective equipment such as a safety belt and lanyard when working at unprotected elevated locations. Exception to this requirement shall only be permitted for emergency rescue or emergency inspection if a safety belt and lanyard is not immediately available. Required personal protective equipment shall be made available as quickly as possible.

(12) When fixed ladders on towers do not reach all the way down to the ground or snow level, a specifically designed and constructed portable ladder shall be used for access to and from the fixed ladder. Portable ladders shall be constructed and maintained to the following requirements:

(a) The portable ladder shall be constructed in accordance with applicable provisions of subsection (3) of this section.

(b) The portable ladder shall be constructed with a minimum of two attachment hooks near the top to be utilized for securing the portable ladder onto the fixed ladder.

(c) The attachment hooks shall be installed to support the portable ladder near the fixed ladder siderails.

(d) Rungs or steps on the portable ladder shall be spaced to be identical with rungs or steps on the fixed ladder when the portable ladder is attached for use. The design criteria shall be to achieve a horizontal plane relationship on the top (walking surface) portion of both steps when overlapping is necessary.

(e) The portable ladder shall be equipped with a hold-out device near the bottom to assure clearance behind the steps as required by subsection (4)(b)(v) of this section.

Figure D-1


Figure D-2

Figure D-3


Figure D-4

[Statutory Authority: Chapter 49.17 RCW. 88-14-108 (Order 88-11), 296-59-115, filed 7/6/88.]


WAC 296-59-120 Ski lift operations.

(1) Operators.

(a) Only trained and qualified lift operators shall be permitted to operate any lift while it is carrying passengers.

(b) Management designated trainees shall only be permitted to operate a lift while under the direct supervision of a qualified operator or trainer.

(c) Initial training of operators shall be accomplished when the lift is not carrying passengers.

(d) Operator training shall include:

(i) Standard and emergency start-up procedures;

(ii) Standard and emergency stopping procedures;

(iii) Lockout procedures;

(iv) Corrective actions for operating malfunctions;

(v) Specific instructions on who to contact for different kinds of rescue emergencies;

(vi) Specific instructions on standard operating procedures with respect to the hazard of loading or unloading passengers proximate to the moving lift chairs.

(2) Operators and helpers shall prepare and maintain the loading and unloading work stations in a leveled condition and, to the extent possible, free from slipping hazards caused by ice, ruts, excessive snow accumulation, tools, etc.

(3) Daily start-up procedure.

(a) Loading station operators shall test all operating controls and stopping controls before permitting any personnel or passengers to load on the lift.

(b) The lift must travel a distance of two times the longest tower span before any employee can load on a chair to go to the remote station.

(c) A qualified operator shall be the first passenger on each lift each day.

Exception: The avalanche control team and the emergency rescue team may use any operable lift at anytime for that work. They may use lifts without a remote operator provided that direct communications are maintained to the operator and the operator has successfully completed normal daily safety and operating control checks at the operating station in use.

(d) Enroute to the remote station, the remote operator shall visually inspect each tower as the chair or gondola proceeds to the remote station.

(e) The remote operator shall stop the system when he/she has reached the remote control station. The operator shall then conduct the daily safety and operating control checks on the remote station.

(f) The remote operator shall ensure that the unloading area is groomed to adequately accommodate normal unloading.

(g) When all controls are checked and functioning correctly and the unloading area is prepared, the remote operator shall communicate to the operator that the system can be placed in normal operation.

(4) Operators shall report to their work station wearing adequate clothing for inclement weather which may be encountered. This requirement shall include reasonably water resistant footwear which shall have a slip resistant sole tread.

(5) While the lift is in operation and carrying passengers, operators shall not permit any activity in the loading/unloading areas which could distract their attention from the principle duty of safely loading or unloading passengers.

(6) Means of communication shall be maintained between the top operator and bottom operator stations.

Statutory Authority: Chapter 49.17 RCW. 88-14-108 (Order 88-11), 296-59-120, filed 7/6/88.]

WAC 296-59-125 Ski lift aerial work platforms.

(1) Construction and loading.

(a) All aerial work platforms shall be constructed to sustain the permissible loading with a safety factor of four. The load permitted shall be calculated to include:

(i) The weight of the platform and all suspension components;

(ii) The weight of each permitted occupant calculated at two hundred fifty pounds per person including limited handtools;

(iii) The weight of any additional heavy tools, equipment, or supplies for tasks commonly accomplished from the work platform.

(b) The floor of the platform shall not have openings larger than two inches in the greatest dimension.

(c) The platform shall be equipped with toeboards at least four inches high on all sides.

(d) Guardrails.

(i) The platform shall be equipped with standard height and strength guardrails where such guardrails will pass through the configuration of all lifts on which it is intended to be used.

(ii) Where guardrails must be less than thirty-six inches high in order to clear carriages, guideage, etc., guardrails shall be as high as will clear the obstructions but never less than twelve inches high.

(iii) If the work platform is equipped with an upper work level, the upper level platform shall be equipped with a toeboard at least four inches high.

(iv) Each platform shall be equipped with a lanyard attachment ring for each permissible occupant to attach a safety belt lanyard.

(v) Each lanyard attachment ring shall be of such strength as to sustain five thousand four hundred pounds of static loading for each occupant permitted to be attached to a specific ring.

(vi) Attachment rings shall be permanently located as close to the center balance point of the platform as is practical.

(vii) The rings may be movable, for instance, up and down a central suspension rod, but shall not be completely removable.

(e) Platform attachment.

(i) The platform shall be suspended by either a standard wire rope four part bridle or by solid metal rods, bars, or pipe.

(ii) The attachment means chosen shall be of a type which will prevent accidental displacement.

(iii) The attachment means shall be adjusted so that the platform rides level when empty.

(f) Maintenance.

(i) Every aerial work platform shall be subjected to a complete annual inspection by qualified personnel.

(ii) The inspection shall include all structural members, welding, bolted or treaded fittings, and the suspension components.

(iii) Any defect noted shall be repaired before the platform is placed back in service.

(iv) A written record shall be kept for each annual inspection. The record shall include:

(A) The inspector identification;

(B) All defects found;

(C) The identity of repair personnel;

(D) Identity of the post-repair inspector who accepted the platform for use.

(g) The platform shall be clearly identified as to the number of permissible passengers and the weight limit of additional cargo permitted.

(i) Signs shall be applied on the outside of each side panel.

(ii) Signs shall be maintained in clearly legible condition.

(h) Unless the side guardrail assembly is at least thirty-six inches high on all sides, signs shall be placed on the inside floor or walls to clearly inform all passengers that they must use a safety belt and lanyard at all times when using the platform.

(2) Work platform use.

(a) Platforms shall be attached to the haulrope with an attachment means which develops a four to one strength factor for the combined weight of the platform and all permissible loading.

(b) The haulrope attachment means shall be designed to prevent accidental displacement.

(c) Trained and competent personnel shall attach and inspect the platform before each use.

(d) Passengers shall be provided with and shall use the correct safety harness and lanyard for the intended work.

(e) Any time a passenger's position is not protected by a standard guardrail at least thirty-six inches high, the individual shall be protected by a short lanyard which will not permit free-fall over the platform edge.

(f) When personnel are passengers on a work platform and their work position requires the use of a safety harness and lanyard, the lanyard shall be attached to the work platform, not to the haulrope or tower.

(g) Work platform passengers shall face in the direction of travel when the lift is moving.

(h) Tools, equipment and supplies shall be loaded on the platform in such a fashion that the loaded platform can safely pass all towers and appurtenances.

(i) Heavy tools, equipment or supplies shall be secured in place if they could fall over or roll within the platform and create a hazard for passengers.

(j) When the work crew is traveling on the work platform, the lift shall be operated at a speed which is safe for that particular system and the conditions present.

Note: See Appendix 2 for operating procedure requirements.

[Statutory Authority: Chapter 49.17 RCW. 88-14-108 (Order 88-11), 296-59-125, filed 7/6/88.]


WAC 296-59-130 Ski lift machinery guarding.

(1) Moving machine parts that are located within normal reach shall be fitted with safety guards in compliance with chapter 296-806 WAC, Machine safety.

(a) The coupling apparatus for the ski lift emergency drive may be provided with a removable or swing guard.

(b) When removable or swing guards are used, the guard and mounting means shall be so designed and constructed as to sustain a two hundred fifty pound weight loading without displacement.

(2) All guards shall be maintained in good condition and shall be secured in place when the equipment is in operation except for inspection and adjustment purposes.

(3) The drive machinery and primary control apparatus shall be installed in a facility which can prevent access by unauthorized personnel. The access door shall have a sign which states that entry is restricted to authorized personnel.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 49.17.010, .040, .050, and .060. 04-14-028 (Order 01-12), § 296-59-130, filed 06/29/04, effective 01/01/05. Statutory Authority: Chapter 49.17 RCW. 88-14-108 (Order 88-11), 296-59-130, filed 7/6/88.]

WAC 296-59-135 Appendix 1-Nonmandatory alternative lock-out procedure for ski lifts and tows.

(1) To ensure the safety of all personnel engaged in lift maintenance activities, we insist that the following procedure be strictly adhered to.

(a) Criteria.

(i) Equipment shall be deactivated and locked or tagged out before an employee is placed in a position where there is a hazard created by exposure to the components of ski lift or tows, equipment and/or systems.

(ii) This procedure relies on positive communication to indicate when lock-out safety is assured. At any time this crew is working at a location remote from the control station, this procedure shall be used by only one work crew whose members are working in close proximity to one another.

(iii) The operator and all potentially exposed employees shall have a positive means of communication at all times. If anyone loses the communication means, it shall be restored before exposure can occur or lock-out or tag-out can be broken.

(iv) Other radio transmissions breaking in or overriding the communications between control operator and remote work crew, if not controlled, can be a problem. There are considerations that should be followed:

(A) The first preferred method is to provide an isolated radio channel for communications between operator and remote work crew.

(B) If an isolated radio frequency is not possible, the entire area crew should be trained to recognize the radio conversation characteristics of this type of work to be notified when the work is in progress and be required to restrict use of their radios.

(v) All personnel working under this procedure shall be thoroughly trained in the specific procedures to be followed and their individual requirements. The ski lift or tow controls shall be under control of a fully qualified operator at all times.

(vi) Signs shall be posted in motor rooms on the control panel or the master disconnect stating “men working on lifts.”

(vii) The control operator shall not leave the close proximity of the control station unless the master disconnect is thrown to the off position and padlocked.

(viii) The “standby drive” shall be locked out of service in such a manner that precludes the operation of the lift by jumping ignition, throwing a clutch, or hooking up a coupling, etc., whenever work is being performed on the equipment or system.

Methods for securing “standby drive” may be, but are not limited to the following:

(A) Removal to secure a location or locking up “standby” drive coupling chain, belts, etc.;

(B) Denying access to the standby motor by locking motor room door.

(ix) When the crew is working at either terminal in proximity of bullwheels, shafts, guideage, gears, belts, chains, etc., the master disconnect shall be thrown to the off position and padlocked.

(b) Work chair.

(i) Prior to crew loading on work chair, controls and communications shall be thoroughly checked to confirm that they are in good working condition.

(ii) The operator and work crew shall discuss and determine the safe speed for that particular lift. At no time shall the work chair travel around either terminal bullwheel except at a very slow speed.

(iii) Employees riding in the work chair shall face the direction of travel when chair is in motion.

(iv) Employees in work chair shall pay special attention to ensure that equipment or tools, etc., will not be entangled on towers, ramps, or terminals as work chair passes by.

(v) Safety belts are required and there is a designated device on each work chair to hook onto. At no time will it be allowed to hook onto the tower or tower equipment while in the work chair, or hook onto a moving part of the lift if standing on the tower.

(c) Operator and controls.

(i) Manual reset stop switches are required on all lifts. The operator shall check and confirm that the lift cannot be started from any control location when the stop switch is depressed. The operator will leave the stop switch depressed until remote crew directs that they are ready to move.

(ii) Communications between operator and remote work crew will be on name basis. This is especially important if there are other radio communications or other crews working on other lifts.

(2) Summation.

(a) If all these rules are adhered to, the operator can use the control circuit stop switch for repetitive type maintenance on towers. If the remote crew is to be at the location for some time, it is recommended that the operator throw the master disconnect switch to the off position and padlock it.

(b) A padlock on the disconnect switch is required when anybody is working on either terminal.

[Statutory Authority: Chapter 49.17 RCW. 88-23-054 (Order 88-25), 296-59-135, filed 11/14/88.]

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