The injury risks flight attendants face on turbulent flights

6831603_sPassenger flights land and depart from airports in Illinois, and throughout the U.S. each day. The Federal Aviation Administration requires flight attendants who staff these airliners to help ensure the safety of passengers. Like any profession, flight attendants can also be injured on the job. When most people think of the potential injury risks that fight attendants face while in flight, they may think of possible aircraft malfunctions or the passengers themselves.

Turbulence, however, is one of the leading causes of work-related injuries for flight attendants. According to a news report by the Sun Sentinel, approximately 24 people are hurt on turbulent flights in the U.S. each year and around 70 percent of these are flight attendants. Since it is quite common for flight attendants to spend the majority of the flight out of their seats, providing services and attending to passengers’ needs, they are naturally, more susceptible to turbulence-related injuries.

Why does turbulence pose such a large injury risk?

Turbulence can arise unexpectedly, at any time during the course of a flight. Mountains, weather, air streams and a number of other factors can cause turbulent air, and this can usually be anticipated. However, most of the time, these movements of air are undetectable since they cannot be seen.

Even with some warning, many flight attendants continue to service the flight or check to ensure that all passengers are safely secured, before securing themselves. As a result, they can be thrown into the air, onto seats or passengers, or into the sides of the aircraft interior. Items, such as food and beverage carts, that are not properly secured or held on to, can be tossed into the air, or roll down the aisle, and could potentially strike, land on or crush a flight attendant.

Injuries that commonly result from turbulence

As a result of turbulence, flight attendants can experience a range of different injuries. These injuries include the following:

  • Bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes
  • Bone breaks and fractures
  • Torn ligaments, pulled muscles and other musculoskeletal problems
  • Muscle sprains and strains 

Additionally, flight attendants who are hurled into the aircraft’s ceiling, and those who are struck by airborne objects, and hit their heads, may suffer a brain injury, such as a concussion.

Depending on the type of injury, and its severity, an injury suffered as the result of turbulence during a flight, may require medical treatment and, in some cases, time off of work for recovery. These types of workplace accidents may result in an employee getting awarded workers’ compensation benefits. It can be helpful for people who have been injured in a situation such as this to discuss their situation with an attorney, to understand the process for filing a claim and to learn what they may be entitled to.