NEAR MISS: Worker-initiated snow slide in remote location

Safety Alert Type: 
Planning and Engineering
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Contractor was completing recce work in an area that was only accessible by helicopter. Crews were working on south facing slopes that were in excess of 40% with poor snow conditions.

The crew caused several snow sluffs & slides while walking along the side slopes that were big enough to knock a worker downhill. The largest slide was 15-20m wide and over 1m deep and travelled at least 100m down toward the stream below the block.

Potential Hazards:

  • Loss of radio contact with fellow workers
  • Changed or blocked access
  • Long time waiting to be rescued in difficult/remote terrain
  • Serious injury or death from being caught in avalanche.


Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Consult www.avalanche.ca for region specific snow conditions and avalanche risk before heading out to the field
  • Review your Avalanche Safety Plan prior to conducting work in mountainous snow covered terrain
  • Monitor snow conditions throughout the day and change plans accordingly
  • Be aware of the following conditions that increase the potential of avalanche:

o Recent rapid rise in above freezing temperatures and or wet conditions;
o Recent loading of snowfall 30cm or more in the last 48hrs;
o Evidence of slab avalanches in the area;
o Signs of snowpack instability including “whumpfs”, shooting cracks, or drum-like sounds;
o 30 degree slopes or greater;
o Evidence of avalanche history, such as sparsely treed area or open forest on alpine slopes;
o Strong winds causing blowing snow and slab development;
o Sustained heavy snowfall >2cm per hour.

ALWAYS avoid the area and adjust plans if there is any risk of avalanche.

For more information on this submitted alert: 
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