The aviation industry is vast and requires large numbers of workers across a broad range of jobs to keep it running smoothly. The ground crew and baggage handlers, mechanics and technicians, flight attendants, and pilots are just some of the many employees in the airline industry. Each of these groups of workers has risks for injury associated with the jobs they perform. Many injuries caused by aviation accidents are compensable under Workers’ Compensation law. Aviation workers and the risks associated with their positions include the following:
Baggage handlers work in confined spaces loading heavy bags, oddly shaped objects, and oversized luggage, thus forcing them to adopt awkward body positions that can cause sprains and strains, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Catering crews work from aircraft catering vehicles that lift the van body up to the aircraft height. Because of the large variety of aircraft types and catering vehicles, there are commonly large gaps between the loading platform and the aircraft door. A significant number of serious injuries occur from falls from the loading platform. These can include broken bones, back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, and head injuries. Caterers also deal with heavy loads that can cause sprains and strains.
Ground crews work on the airport apron and include wing walkers and ramp agents. Because of their close proximity to the aircraft itself and ground operations vehicles, these workers are at risk for struck-by and caught-in/between accidents. Working on the airport apron is also a source of occupational noise exposure that can cause hearing damage and permanent hearing loss. Electrocution is a risk for workers repairing runway lighting and other outdoor fixtures.
Gate crew and other airlines administrative staff may encounter repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or other injuries that can cause chronic pain.
These workers drive bags to and from the aircraft conveyor belt and can be injured in collisions in their vehicles, caught-between accidents at the end of the conveyor belt, and struck-by accidents when baggage falls from the belt. Slip and fall accidents are also common due to the varying weather conditions during loading.
Flight attendants work long shifts, some of which are overnight, often over different time zones. Shift work and jet lag are known to disrupt sleep patterns causing chronic fatigue. Additionally, flight attendants are routinely exposed to airborne contaminants, disease, and infections through their work in confined spaces with passengers. Like other airline workers, they lift heavy loads into overhead compartments which can lead to sprains and strains. Turbulence during flights can cause slip and fall accidents. Today’s flight attendants may also be at risk of assault by the passengers they serve, as evidenced by the many videos on social and news media.
Drivers spend many hours sitting in idling vehicles during their workday. Tests by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety found high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in the cabs of refueling trucks. Carbon monoxide can remain in the blood for several days and can therefore build up over the course of the workweek. Acute CO poisoning can cause dizziness, rapid breathing, headaches, nausea and weakness, loss of consciousness, and even death.
The injuries suffered by aviation workers are as varied as the different jobs they perform. If you work in the airline industry and have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits, which can provide you with some or all of the following:
You should see a medical professional for your injuries and report your injuries to your employer immediately. Some occupational illnesses and diseases have strict time limitations for filing a claim. A qualified Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer can inform you of your legal options.
At Gross & Kenny, LLP, we focus exclusively on Workers’ Compensation cases and have extensive experience with the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system. Our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers will fight to make sure you receive the maximum compensation available for your case. Call us today at 267-589-0090 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer in Philadelphia.