As zip lines grow to become an increasing presence in the adventure industry
- particularly in visitor destinations like Hawaii – questions are
being raised about the safety of the activity which allows participants
to zip from one location to another along a cable and pulley system.
In September, Teddy Callaway, a 36-year old Maui resident was killed and
a 35-year-old resident of Ohio was critically injured when a 30-foot zip
line tower on Hawaii Island collapsed without warning. Callaway, was on
the zip line at Honolii Mountain Outpost, which ran 2,300 feet above Honolii
Stream. The collapse sent him 200 feet onto a rocky area below where his
body was recovered. The other employee was on the tower at the time of
the incident and suffered internal injuries and fractures.
Both men involved in the accident were employees of Experiential Resource
Incorporated (ERI), a Lahaina- based company which works in the construction
of adventure courses, including zip lines.
A workplace death investigation is currently being conducted by the Hawaii
Occupational Safety and Health division and just last week (October 25,
2011) the company suspended bookings of all zip line tours until an evaluation
of the soil composition and structural integrity of its zip lines is completed.
Currently, there are at least 15 commercial zip line companies that operate
in Hawaii and the incident has brought to light safety issues in the industry.
Currently, Hawaii has no workplace safety regulations in place for zip
lines. The state has in place standards for amusement rides, but these
rules to not apply to zip line operations since they do not have any mechanical
or electrical components.
While serious injuries and deaths are rare, broken fingers, ankles, bruises
and even whiplash are common when participants land at the platform too
quickly. For those planning to zip line, some safety precautions to keep
yourself and your family safe are:
- Pay close attention to the information provided in the briefing or orientation,
which should include a review of the staff's training, company's
safety measures, as well as safety information and tips on what to and
not to do while on the zip line.
- Wear closed toed shoes – most, if not all, companies will require
this of their guests.
- Keep long hair pulled back and avoid wearing loose clothing which can get
stuck in pulleys or lines.