For a flight attendant, each day on the job brings potential exposures to turbulence, severe air pressure changes, unwieldy service carts, broken luggage bins, balky exit doors and door handles, exposures to toxic chemicals, unruly passengers, communicable diseases, and emergency evacuations. As a result, safety and health violations occur on a daily basis for flight attendants.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), flight attendants, as well as other employees in the scheduled passenger air transportation industry, suffer occupational injuries and illnesses at rates far in excess of those experienced by workers in nearly all other sectors of private industry. For example, in 2008, aviation employees suffered 9.6 recordable injury and illness cases per 100 workers. In comparison, employees in the coal mining industry experienced recordable injuries and illnesses at a rate of 4.4 cases per 100 workers and framing contractors in the construction industry reported 6.9 cases per 100 workers.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) today participated in “OSHA Listens,” an event sponsored by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aimed at soliciting comments on key issues facing the agency. AFA-CWA detailed how, for over 35 years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has claimed exclusive jurisdiction over the safety and health of crew members on civil aircraft, yet has failed to extend basic OSHA protections to flight attendants.
“The lack of OSHA protections has real consequences for flight attendants and it is time that these basic protections that are extended to almost every other worker in the United States be applied to flight attendants as well,” said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International president. “Our goal is to work with the FAA and OSHA in order to ensure that once and for all, strong and comprehensive regulations are enacted to protect the workplace safety and health of flight attendants.”