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Airport Safety Starts with Safer Working Conditions

Recent OSHA investigations, enforcement actions, and settlement agreements against aviation contractors and airlines at airports around the country underscore the dangerous nature of airport work and the need for better oversight of private contractors operating at airports across the nation.

Ever since the airline and airport outsourcing that began in the 1980s, responsibility for services critical to the safe and efficient operation of our airports is now in the hands of various private contractors who pay lower wages, offer fewer benefits, and provide employees with inadequate training compared to when these jobs were performed by workers directly employed by the airlines or the airports. There are 12,000 workers employed by more than 40 different contractors at JFK and LaGuardia Airports. These contractors are responsible for providing crucial ground crew passenger services like cabin cleaning, wheelchair assistance, baggage handling and terminal cleaning.

In August and September of 2014, NYCOSH conducted interviews with workers employed by some of the largest airlines and contractors operating at JFK and LGA. The interviews indicated that unsafe working conditions are common in outsourced airport ground operations. These hazardous conditions have remedies and once remedied can increase the safety of ground crew passenger service works. Contractors, airports, and airlines must play active roles in ensuring that the health and safety of their contractors’ employees and of travelers are properly protected. The below NYCOSH recommendationsare aimed at reducing the risk and ensuring the safety and health of workers, passengers, and all individuals who utilize New York City’s airports:

  • • Employers must provide workers with necessary materials to properly do their job to prevent compromised health and safety for passengers.
  • • Employers must provide health and safety training for the hazards that workers face.
  • • Employers must identify workplace chemicals, eliminate or reduce exposure, and provide personal protective equipment when necessary, along with training in its limitations and proper use.
  • • Employers must eliminate or minimize exposure to potentially infectious materials.
  • • Employers should ensure that workers are protected against exposure to temperature extremes.
  • • Employers must conduct workplace hazard assessments to determine whether hazards are present, or are likely to be present, that would require the use of personal protective equipment, such as gloves that protect against chemicals or biological hazards.

If you or a loved one has been ill or injured on the job, contact us for a free consultation today.