Ski helmets to be mandatory in N.S.
Posted: Dec 6, 2011 11:30 AM AT
Last Updated: Dec 7, 2011 9:47 AM AT
The Nova Scotia government plans to pass a law requiring all skiers to wear helmets.
Under legislation introduced on Tuesday, any skier not wearing protective headgear would face a $250 fine for each offence.
According to the Department of Health and Wellness, 11 people have suffered traumatic brain injuries since 2000 that have been related to skiing or snowboarding without a helmet.
Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said studies have shown that although helmet use is mandatory for children in most jurisdictions, many teens and adults tend to discard the safety measure.
She said the aim of the proposed legislation is to prevent traumatic head injuries at any age.
"Really, if we are going to get serious about helmet use and preventing traumatic brain injuries, this is the group we have to target and the way to do it is through mandatory requirements to wear helmets," said MacDonald.
The bill would also require ski hill operators to post signs alerting people to mandatory helmet use, but there are no fines if they don't. MacDonald said the responsibility of wearing helmets would rest with skiers and snowboarders.
"This legislation puts the onus on the individual. It does not put the onus on the ski hill operator."
The new law would go into effect next November.
It's not known what it would cost to have government inspectors enforce the law.
Lynne Fenerty, research nurse with the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre's division of neurosurgery, said doctors at the Halifax hospital endorsed the government's move.
Fenerty said research has revealed that helmet use has reduced brain injuries by up to 60 per cent.
"These injuries have life-long consequences for patients, families and communities at large," she said.
Fenerty said the annual cost of caring for a person who has suffered a major brain injury is about $400,000.
Nova Scotia has three ski resorts that open regularly every year.With files from The Canadian Press
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