The Denver Post reported that a 40-year old woman died after she and her two daughters, ages 9 and 12, fell from a lift chair tramway at Granby Ski Ranch. Reports indicated they didn't have their safety bar properly positioned before falling 25 feet. The mother was pronounced dead, while both daughters were hospitalized. The lift is closed until a CO Passenger Tramway Safety Board (CPTSB) investigation is concluded. Twelve people have died as a result of a lift defects since 1973, the last of which occurred in 1993, as well as several deaths that occurred from falls that weren't the result of mechanical problems. Ski resort operators are largely shielded from liability in accidents at their facilities by the Colorado Ski Safety Act; however, the act does not apply to passenger tramways (lifts), which the CPTSB regulates.
What is the Colorado Tramway Passenger Safety Board?
A legislative order in 1965 established the CPTSB for the prevention of mechanical problems with operating passenger tramways. They are assigned to oversee design, construction, safety, and inspection of these systems. Roughly 20 US states have some variety of designated state regulation for tramways; however, none can rival the structure, size, or funding which Colorado has. The Board consists of six Governor-appointed members and one assigned member from the US Forest Service. The Board requires all operators of these systems to be licensed if used by the public.
CPTSB Enforcement & Disciplinary Action
The Board may impose disciplinary actions including denial, suspension, or revocation of the license to operate. Fines can be assessed for violations up to a maximum of $10,000, and further to $50,000 if determined to have been willfully done. Violations may include:
- Failure to report an accident that the operator was aware of.
- Purposeful (willful) violations in tramway operation or maintenance.
- Continuing to operate a tramway that presents a danger to health or safety, which the operator is aware of, or should have been aware of.
- Allowing operation of a passenger tramway by a user with a suspended license.
Failure to comply with board orders may result in further action, including court injunctions. Violators may face a $5,000 civil penalty per day. Those operating without a license or those failing to comply with an order, may be charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor. Disciplinary hearings are conducted by the Board, or an administrative judge.
CPTSB Immunity from Civil Liability
Board members, staff, technical advisors, and members of advisory committees are provided protections under government immunity. Immunity may be extended to independent contractors performing inspections on behalf of the Board as well.
Have you been injured as a result of mechanical failures, or defective products, systems, or devices? Colorado law allows for legal action to compensate victims for damages associated with accidents. The Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal fights for the rights of injury victims against negligent organizations and the insurance companies that defend them. Contact the office today to review the details of your case.