News item

Head injuries major cause of death or severe injury on ski slopes

EuroSafeEuroSafe calls on governments and ski slope operators to make sure that there is no exception to the rule that everyone wears a helmet while on ski slopes.

Each year thousands of people get injured in snow sports in Europe. It is estimated that in the entire EU-region there are each year 300.000 snow sport related injuries that require medical treatment in hospital, including 170.000 ski injuries and 90.000 snowboard injuries.

At the start of the new skiing season, EuroSafe launches a campaign promoting helmets wearing on slopes by issuing a policy briefing on snow helmets. This policy briefing is directed at national and local governments and ski slope operators. It describes the magnitude and severity of snow sport related injuries and how effective helmets are in reducing head injury.

The facts

Skiing and snowboarding are increasingly popular leisure time activities. These sports are being practised in Europe by several millions of people of all ages. It makes great fun and it is healthy and relaxing.

However, there is no sport without risks:

  • Snow sports hold a significant injury risk of injury. Children and young people are more at risk. There is no major difference in injury risks between snowboarders and skiers. More than 50% of all severe and fatal injuries in snow sports are head injuries.
  • As other types of injuries in snow sports are decreasing, such as knee injuries owing to better binding systems, head injuries in snow sports are taking a larger share in the total number of snow sport injuries.
  • Snow sports helmets, if worn properly, will reduce the impact of a collision or crash and thus reduce the severity of injury outcome. Various studies indicate that helmets will reduce the risk of head injury by 21% up to 45 %.
  • Fortunately, helmet wearing rates are increasing: Germany, Austria and Switzerland are respectively reporting 40%, 63%, 76% helmet wearing rates now. Switzerland is even reporting a 95% helmet wearing rate among children.


There is quite some controversy as to whether or not helmet wearing should be enforced by legislation, as it could discourage snow sports participants from practising their sports.

However, the high level of acceptance of helmet wearing now gives the right momentum for making helmet wearing obligatory in order to further reduce the severity of head injuries in snow sports.

Therefore, governments and ski slope operators should ensure that there is no exception to the rule that everyone wears a helmet while on the ski slopes.

Read the report on the EuroSafe website

European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion press release 3 November 2010