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Page last reviewed: 01/22/2009
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Airline Industry

Together, with members of the airline industry and the National Safety Council (NSC), OSHA works to provide employers and airline industry workers with information and assistance to help create a healthy and safe working environment.

Exposures to hazards present in the airline industry are addressed in specific standards for general industry.

Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards and other federal standards related to the airline industry.

OSHA

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Frequently Cited Standards

OSHA maintains a listing of the most frequently cited standards for specified 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Please refer to OSHA's Frequently Cited OSHA Standards page for additional information. For Scheduled Passenger Air Transportation use NAICS code 481111 in the NAICS search box.

Other Highlighted Standards

Other Federal

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

  • 14 CFR 139, Certification of Airports. This is part of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR). Specific areas of interest for the airline industry may include:
    • 139.101, General requirements
    • 139.203, Contents of airport certification manual
    • 139.205, Amendment of airport certification manual
    • 139.321, Handling and storing of hazardous substances and materials
    • 139.329, Pedestrians and ground vehicles
    • 139.1, Applicability. Requires the FAA to issue airport operating certificates to airports that serve scheduled and unscheduled air carrier aircraft with more than 30 seats or that the FAA Administrator requires to have a certificate.

Hazards and Solutions

Many airline workers may be unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing and controlling hazards which may be present in the airline industry.

Ground Crew

Gate Crew

Ground Service Equipment

  • 54-Year-Old Certified Electrician Dies in North Carolina. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatal Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program Report 86-47. Reports an incident involving a 54-year-old partner of an electrical contracting company (a certified electrician) who was electrocuted while he repaired airport runway lights. The lights were energized before the task was completed.

  • Controlling Carbon Monoxide Hazard in Aircraft Refueling Operations. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 84-106, (1984, February). NIOSH investigators conducted an evaluation of the occupational health hazards of workers who fuel jet aircrafts. Discusses how dangerous concentrations of CO were found in truck cabs where workers spend a considerable amount of time sitting in idling vehicles.

  • Safe access to aircraft for catering operations. Health and Safety Executive (HSE), (2008, May). Provides guidance for inspectors in preventing falls from height during the catering of aircrafts, and when opening aircraft doors.

  • Report to Congress: Injuries and Fatalities of Workers Struck by Vehicles on Airport Aprons [877 KB PDF, 35 pages]. US Department of Transportation (DOT), (2002, July). The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to study injuries to airport apron workers struck by vehicles and to investigate actions to enhance apron worker safety.

  • US Army Corps of Engineers Safety and Health Requirements Manual. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh), (2003).
    • Airfield Operations [113 KB PDF, 4 pages]. Provides safety and health requirements for airfield operations.

Ramp

  • Baggage Handling: Ramp. OSHA eTool. Addresses hazards associated with plane side loading and unloading using manual, semi-automated, and automated baggage systems.

  • Ramp Safety. Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) Directline, (1996, June). Provides an overview of ramp operations and recommendations to avoid ramp operation incidents.

Ticket Counter

Flight Crew

General

Cockpit Crew

  • Flight Safety Digest. Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). Addresses general flight and cockpit safety issues.

Flight Attendants

  • Cabin Crew Safety. Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). Links to archives dating back to 1988.

  • Flight attendants are also responsible for assisting passengers with special needs. See Gate Crew for additional information.

For additional information regarding identifying and controlling the hazards associated with the airline industry, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Seasonal Flu

Safety and Health Programs

An effective safety and health program depends on the credibility of management's involvement in the program, inclusion of employees in safety and health decisions, rigorous worksite analysis to identify hazards and potential hazards, including those which could result from a change in worksite conditions or practices, stringent prevention and control measures, and thorough training. It addresses hazards whether or not they are regulated by government standards. The following references characterize and further explain safety and health programs.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Training

Other Resources

  • Small Business. OSHA.
  • Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). Recognizes small business employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. Upon receiving SHARP recognition, your business will be exempt from programmed inspections during the period that your SHARP certification is valid.

  • Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). OSHA. VPP participants are a select group of facilities that have designed and implemented outstanding health and safety programs.

  • A Guide to Packing for Business and Personal Travel. OSHA-Airline Industry and the National Safety Council (NSC), International Air Transport Section Alliance. Also available as a 303 KB PDF, 2 pages.

  • Environmental Screening Checklist and Workbook for Airports and Tenant Operations [313 KB PDF, 117 pages]. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (2000, July). Includes self-evaluation tools such as environmental screening checklists and workbooks which can be used by industry or government officials to screen or evaluate their compliance with EPA regulations. Helps those in the air transport industry evaluate compliance of either specific activities or areas in the facility or the entire facility.

  • US Department of Transportation (DOT). Oversees the formulation of national transportation policy and promotes intermodal transportation.

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Oversees the safety of civil aviation. It also regulates a program to protect the security of civil aviation, and enforces regulations under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act for shipments by air.
    • Safety. Develops and implements improved tools and processes, to facilitate more effective use of safety data, both inside and outside the agency, and to help improve aviation safety.
    • Airport Safety. Provides guidance on airport operations and safety practices; maintaining airport master records (the 5010 program) in the Airport Safety Data Program; promoting emergency operations, vulnerability reduction, and damage control at civil airports; planning for emergency management of civil airports; and directing Federal activities and their restoration after attack or natural disaster.
  • Health and safety in air transport industry. Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Deals with a variety of airline issues. Search "Live Issues", "Program of Work", and "From Experience" for the best information.

  • Aviation Accident Database and Synopses. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Contains information from 1962 and later about civil aviation accidents and selected incidents within the United States, its territories and possessions, and in international waters.

  • News and Publications: Airport Magazine. American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). Links to download area where latest issues are available.

  • Rosekind, M. R., et al. "Fatigue Factors in Regional Airline Operations." (1994, June). Presented at the meeting of the Public Forum on Commuter Airline Safety, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • How Baggage Handling Works. How Stuff Works. Provides a basic explanation of baggage movement in an airport and other general information on baggage and freight movement.

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