28.06.2011

Peak body recommends helmets for ski instructors

Sports Medicine Australia, the peak body for sports medicine and science, is calling on all major ski resorts to implement a mandatory helmet policy for ski instructors, to improve safety on the ski slopes.

It is hoped this compulsory attire will trigger all skiers and snowboarders, especially children, to adopt similar headwear in the hope of reducing the occurrence of head injuries.

Sports Medicine Australia (Qld Branch) Ski Division Chair, Dr Michael Donovan says the protective effects of ski helmets have been more than proven.

“The issue of alpine sport safety received worldwide media attention following the tragic death of Natasha Richardson in 2009, following a ski fall in Quebec,” said Dr Donovan.

“While not an isolated incident it highlighted the importance of helmets in ski safety in preventing brain injury, and ultimately death.

“There is strong evidence that shows helmets reduce the risk of head injury in skiers and snowboarders by about one-third with no increase in neck injuries.

“With ski instructors looked upon as role models, particularly amongst children, it makes sense that they should be promoting responsible behaviour on the slopes,” said Dr Donovan.

Many other countries already require mandatory helmet use among ski instructors.

“Employees in North American resorts require all employees, including instructors and lift attendants, to wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding on the job. In Italy and Austria, legal steps are already in place to implement a full mandatory requirement for helmet wearing on slopes,” said Dr Donovan.

“Australia needs to pick up its game when it comes to safety in snow sports. Through the simple practice of wearing a helmet brain injuries may be able to be prevented,” said Dr Donovan.

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Media enquiries: Amanda Boshier, National Media Manager, phone 03 9674 8703 or mobile 0412 224 729.

Media interviews: Dr Michael Donovan, mobile 0421 638 552.