The runway is an exciting but hazardous place to work. Airport employees need a full range of safety equipment to stay visible and protected in the ramp environment. Planes are built for flight, not for runway maneuvers. They are unwieldy and may be hard to control when they are on the ground. Every Illinois airlines workers’ compensation attorney knows that a collision with a taxiing aircraft can be instantly fatal for a worker on or near the runway.
A recent fatality in Las Vegas
A recent incident at the Las Vegas airport underscores the danger of ground contact with planes. A passenger jet collided with a ramp employee during pushback in inclement December weather. The 31-year-old ramp employee suffered severe injuries and missed more than six months of work.
Dangers on the runway
Runway and ramp workers are exposed to a range of serious hazards on the job, including collision risks, heat or cold exposure, hearing loss from noise pollution and exposure to dangerous chemicals used in maintenance and fueling. These hazards cannot be eliminated, but some of them can be mitigated by use of proper safety equipment.
Required safety equipment for runway employees
Before employees drive or walk into the ramp area, they must have all of the following safety equipment in place:
- Sufficient hearing protection
- Appropriate clothing for weather conditions
- High-visibility lighting
- Reflective clothing
- Two-way radios or other communication devices
If even one of these safety measures is absent, ramp and runway workers risk severe injury or death.
Training is also crucial
Good safety equipment is not enough to protect runway employees, as a Illinois airlines workers’ compensation attorney knows. Workers must also be thoroughly trained in the use of their equipment. Before using fuel trucks, beltloaders, food service vehicles, luggage carts and other devices, they need to know about proper safety procedures. If an airline or airport does not provide workers with the correct safety equipment and teach them how to use it, they have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In cases of extreme risk, they have the right to walk out.
Higher visibility means fewer injuries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 6,000 workers are killed each year by vehicle strikes. Some of these workers are ramp employees struck during pushback. BLS studies show that high-visibility clothing may have a positive effect on the trend of vehicle strikes among workers.
Ramp and runway professionals are entitled to safe working conditions. People who have been hurt on the ramp should consider talking with a Illinois airlines workers’ compensation attorney.