Two Whistler Blackcomb employees were injured while performing routine lift maintenance on the Whistler Mountain T-Bars Monday.
One of the employees fell approximately six metres from a lift tower to the ground, according to a release from Whistler Blackcomb. His injuries are not life threatening, although he was air-lifted to Vancouver for a full examination.
The other employee suffered minor bruises as he was harnessed to the tower and did not fall.
The accident happened near noon. The T-Bars have been closed to the public since May, however routine maintenance on the lift takes place throughout the summer in advance of the winter season.
According to Whistler Blackcomb, early investigations indicate that one employee remained harnessed to the tower when the lift was given the go-ahead to start moving. The movement of the lift caused the work carrier hanger to torque and snap, sending the carrier and the unharnessed employee to the ground.
The incident has been reported to Worksafe B.C. and to the B.C. Safety Authority which regulates passenger ropeways throughout the province. A full investigation is underway to understand the cause of the incident but there is no indication that safety or lift equipment failed.
Lift Maintenance staff spend approximately 50,000 hours annually on preventative lift maintenance across a system of 38 lifts on both mountains. The Whistler Blackcomb release stated: "an employee incident of this kind is highly unusual as Whistler Blackcomb's Lift Maintenance employees are some of the most experienced and well-trained in the ski industry. Upon further understanding of the results of the investigation, a full debrief will take place with staff to ensure learning from this very unfortunate incident.
"Our thoughts and best wishes are with our two employees for their speedy recovery."
According to Dave Brownlie, president and COO of Whistler Blackcomb, the injured employee is expected to make a full recovery but was still in hospital at press time. He would not comment on the accident, except to say that Whistler Blackcomb takes safety very seriously.
"There's a full investigation going on, but we're pretty sure there wasn't a mechanical error at this point," he said.
"Our lift maintenance crews are some of the best in the industry for sure, and we'll be looking at things closely to make sure this kind of thing can't happen again."