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Anna Laxague and Mt. Hood Meadows are finalists for the NSAA Safety Champion and best Employee Safety Program

Categories: Faces of Meadows Safety COVID Inside Meadows Media Center Guest Connection

Risk Manager Anna Laxague is a finalist for the NSAA Safety Champion Award
Photo: Colin Meagher

June 11 Update: Mt. Hood Meadows wins the NSAA Best Employee Safety Program Award
Mt. Hood Meadows NSAA Best Employee Safety Program Award

Mt. Hood Meadows Risk Manager Anna Laxague is one of three Safety Champion finalists going into next week’s NSAA Spring Convention. The Safety Champion will be awarded in a live (on-line) ceremony on Friday, June 11.

As our Risk Manager, Anna is constantly working with departments to assess risk and reduce workplace injuries. But the Coronavirus elevated the threat of team members contracting this potentially lethal disease, and inadvertently spreading it to coworkers and guests. The potential for an outbreak within a department would likely result in a partial shutdown of a restaurant unit, a lift, our ability to shuttle, even a total resort closure. There has never been a greater risk management challenge in Meadows’ 53-year history.

Anna Laxague stepped up to and met the challenge. She became a resource advisor for all departments, providing guidance and sharing best practices on protocols for reducing the risk of infection spread. She led the work on mask requirements, educating our team and sourcing different manufacturers to assure we had the quantity of appropriate masks for our team.  She designed the initial team pledge and check in documentation that allowed our company to work safely through the summer months without incident to accomplish our CAPEX improvement projects and build confidence that we could work and operate safely as our team members returned in force for the winter season.

But even with these protocols, monitoring and enforcement in place in the workplace, the greatest threat to our team and our season would be community spread – infections occurring away from work. Identifying potential exposure, isolating those that have been infected and quarantining possible exposures would be essential for Meadows to operate without disruption. The resources in our local counties would not be able to perform the needed contact tracing a potential outbreak would require. So Anna worked with local health authorities, went through the John’s Hopkins Contact Tracing training, and helped create the Coronavirus Response Team (CRT). Anna developed the tracker for symptomatic/exposure quarantines, including return to work screening and follow ups for emotional wellbeing, testing and other resources. The CRT supported managers at the department level, providing guidance in confidence to concerned team members, advising them on the benefits we had put in place to support their isolation or quarantine requirement, and alerting managers and supervisors about any staffing concerns a department may face due to these measures.

Anna played a crucial role coordinating several solution sessions with departments to adapt to new conditions and improve prevention measures. Along with other members of our CRT she managed messaging, tracing, travel restrictions and isolation / quarantine protocols.

She is a true Safety Champion and personifies the significant and heroic efforts taken to keep our team and guests healthy and safe this extraordinary season.

Mt. Hood Meadows is also one of three finalists for the best Employee Safety Program

Lift attendees at orientation prior to the 2021 season at Mt. Hood MeadowsIn March of 2020, following the decision to suspend operations for the season due to COVID infection threat, Mt. Hood Meadows established the Coronavirus Readiness Task Force (CRTF) – a cross-departmental collaboration to prepare and guide our company to an eventual safe return to operations. Goals for the CRTF were clearly defined and endorsed by our Board and Owners:

  1. Build confidence and trust among our team, our guests and the community by mitigating the risk of infection spread.
  2. Prepare to pivot quickly as COVID situations, regulatory guidance and executive orders change.
  3. Provide clear guidance for each operating department.
  4. Establish baseline thresholds for hourly visitation to help foster social distancing.
  5. Communicate frequently with our Team and Guests regarding education, expectations, procedures and shared responsibilities.

The agenda and efforts of the CRTF prioritized the health and wellbeing of team members, provided updates (health advisories, risk levels), allowed for departmental feedback, identified areas of focus and resources needed to manage our team and operate safely.

The Task Force created a Coronavirus Response Operating Plan (CROP) template for each operating department which allowed department managers to design specific team member and guest journeys; assess, reduce or eliminate infection risks; develop sanitizing routines; and revamp recruiting, hiring, onboarding, orientation and socially distanced training efforts. The completed departmental CROPs guided our company safely through a summer of CAPEX improvements, followed by the ramp up to reopening for winter operations. The sum of these CROP’s became our new operating plan.

CROP Operating Plan:
Mt. Hood Meadows Coronavirus Readiness Operating Plan for the 2020/21 season

Our efforts generated strong results and we completed our season successfully and continue to protect the health and wellbeing of our team. Our detailed and rigorous planning and implementation efforts yielded the following results to date:

No (zero) traceable workplace transmissions of the Coronavirus at Mt. Hood Meadows or Cooper Spur Mt. Resort this season.

This is a tribute and recognition to our entire team as well as our guests and we are honored to be selected as finalists in these two important categories, especially in this COVID affected season.

Congratulations to everyone, especially Anna! We will be on the edge of our seats watching the awards!