Granby Ranch tries Fit For Snow to lower workers’ comp claims
Working at a ski resort can be physically demanding.
Ski school instructors and Ski Patrol members spend their days in fast paced and extreme environments where the difference between safety and serious injury can be a matter of split seconds and quick thinking. Proper physical preparation and mental clarity keep workers safe, and help the business bottom line by reducing worker’s comp claims.
To that end Granby Ranch is trying out a new employee pilot program this year called Fit For Snow. Granby Ranch is testing the program with both its Ski School and Ski Patrol employees, areas in the ski resort industry with some of the highest workers’ comp claim rates.
The Fit For Snow program was developed by Delia Roberts, Ph.D. from Canada. Roberts is a sports scientist with a focus on occupational injury prevention. She helped train Olympic athletes for a number of years and has applied her skills to myriad professions from truck drivers to physicians.
Roberts initially developed the Fit For Snow program for ski resorts in western Canada. A trial program of Fit For Snow was conducted with five ski resorts in British Columbia and Alberta starting in the fall of 2010.
In her research into employee injuries Roberts has identified three key areas: poor nutrition, dehydration, and lack of specific fitness that contribute significantly to workers’ comp costs. She has further identified a link between dehydration and poor blood glucose regulation with slower reaction times, a key factor in injuries at a ski resort.
To address these areas Roberts developed a program that emphasizes proper nutrition and hydration in concert with physical fitness and “body awareness” or proper posture, while working.
Roberts highlights the high sugar and fat diets of many ski resort employees, typically younger individuals, as regularly leading to wide fluctuations in blood glucose levels. These fluctuations in blood glucose are associated with reduced reaction times, difficulty with complex memory processing and poor decision-based choice making.
In an article Roberts wrote for Ski Area Management Magazine she states, “an examination of five years of injury records at the five test ski areas indicated that 60 to 80 percent of injuries occurred in late morning and afternoon, when blood sugar levels typically are low.”
Paired with proper nutrition in the program is proper hydration. Her research showed more than 25 percent of employees became dehydrated enough throughout the course of a workday to begin feeling effects associated with dehydration:
Her research also indicates that most ski resort employees are not physically fit enough and that increasing overall fitness levels could significantly reduce workers’ comp claims. The Fit For Snow program provides a series of simple physical exercises employees can incorporate into their workdays.
Similarly, the Fit For Snow program encourages ski resorts to offer healthier options for employees for lunch and provide plenty of resources for employees to stay hydrated.
Emily Caldwell, human resources manager at Granby Ranch, said Granby Ranch is offering healthy lunch options to comport with the Fit For Snow program’s recommendations.
“The Ski School department has really run with the program,” said Caldwell.
Caldwell went on to explain Granby Ranch has benefited from implementing the program this season.
“We are not able to provide solid numbers at this time, as it is still well within the season,” she said. “However, I can say we have seen favorable results thus far and are eager to evaluate at the end of the season.”
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