How to Keep Airline Employees Safe in a New Workplace Climate

Nekea Valentine-Bryant

Fly the friendly skies was a moniker for air travel during the 70s and 80s, but today air travel has dramatically changed from its luxurious heyday. As commercial air travel has become more common place, and with the expansion of various airlines, those who work in the industry face new challenges to ensuring the safety of passengers and crew. In recent months, there have been numerous examples of heightened situations aboard commercial aircraft that create new dangers for airline employees.

But with a few precautions, employees can reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries, and help to ensure flight operations remain on-time and injury-free. Below are some tips for those workers who help to make our air travel experiences safe and enjoyable.

Safety for the flight crew

The flight crew includes the employees responsible for the operation of the aircraft during flight. These employees are responsible for the safety of passengers as well as those who operate the aircraft. Flight attendants face many hazards on the job, from strains assisting passengers with luggage to burns from coffee, falls on wet surfaces, to more severe injuries in cases of emergency landings.

Here’s some tips to keep the flight crew safe:

  1. Fall protection. Since flight crew often traverse from the gateway to the aircraft, to loading areas, the risk of falling is significant. Surfaces should be dry and steady before allowing employees to walk across.
  2. Heat exposure. Flight attendants are most at risk for burns while in an aircraft, stemming from hot coffee or hot ovens preparing food. Flight crew should use heat protection gloves to handle hot items during a shift.
  3. Preventive protection. Flight crew may have to travel to foreign countries where other illnesses may be present, or interact with passengers who may be contagious with serious medical conditions. Proper vaccinations and hand washing practices can help to reduce the risk of infection.
  4. Dangerous flight situations. Tensions can run high during flights, and flight crew are often the first line of defense in ensuring the safety of other passengers. Should an altercation erupt, flight crew should work as a team to resolve the situation as outlined by airline policies.

Safety for the ground crew

We may only think of pilots and flight attendants in terms of airline employees, but an airline’s ground crew work behind the scenes to provide support and services for the aircraft while on the ground. From loading luggage to replenishing food and drinks, they face several hazards that can impact their health and safety.

Given that these individuals spend much of their day moving from various levels, they are at an increased risk of falls. Additionally, with the varying weight of luggage, these crew members are also more at risk to sprains and strains from loading and unloading baggage.

Here’s how to keep your ground crew safe on the job:

  1. Training and education. This can include information on working in extreme temperatures, best practices for operating ground support equipment, reviewing current safety procedures, and other types of training.
  2. Preventive measures. Something as simple as stretching exercises prior to starting a shift or ensuring crew have proper back support can help to prevent injuries, and limit the impact of an on-the-job injury. And it’s likely they will thank you for it.
  3. Safe approaches. Items shift during flight, and that includes the cargo below. Ground crew should approach aircraft with safety and ensure proper distances to reduce the risk of contusions.
  4. Outreach and communication. It’s important to provide ongoing communication to employees about safety practices and how each person plays a role in preventing injuries.

All these things are important, but support from leadership also helps to create a safe workplace. Employers can show their commitment by following the tips above, and recognize those employees who observe safety practices. To learn more about how to ensure a safe workplace for airline employees, and how Concentra can provide proper protections for your workforce, contact one of our work health experts today.