You probably know very well how astoundingly busy Denver International Airport (DIA) is. To quantify it, more than 54 million passengers streamed in and out last year. Plenty of cargo came through as well.
All types of airline industry workers struggle to keep up with this volume. For baggage handlers, however, it’s particularly challenging because so much lifting and bending often causes injuries.
In this post, we will take note of some of the common hazards for baggage handlers and discuss the role of workers’ compensation when injuries occur.
Ergonomics hazards for airline employees
It isn’t only the constant repetition and fast work pace that are difficult for baggage handlers at DIA or any other airport. Another factor is the weight of the luggage, with many heavy laptops and other objects. Often bags are mismarked, resulting in awkward attempts to lift bags that are heavier than they appear.
Indeed, the awkward body postures that various airport baggage-handling systems require are part of the problem as well.
The process starts with baggage check-in, of course. A skycap or agent has to lift the bag at some point, in order to transfer it to a baggage cart or a conveyor.
Along the way, repetitive lifting and twisting motions are required to get bags through the system. This involves working with machines such as the baggage conveyor, the loading conveyor, the sorting conveyor and so on. There are lots of steps in the process in between check-in and the baggage compartment – and lots of places where injuries can occur.
Not surprisingly, airline industry officials try to emphasize the importance of good lifting techniques. This includes such things as segregating bags according to weight when on baggage carts, so that heavier bags can go on the bottom.
Using such an arrangement can minimize the need for lifting heavy bags. Ergonomics experts also recommend limiting the height to which heavy bags are stacked. The purpose of this is to prevent having to lift arms above the shoulders, if possible.
Now amount of ergonomics training, however, can change the fact that a job that requires frequent lifting often results in work injuries, especially back injuries. We discussed this in our February 12 post in the context of nurses and others who must lift patients.
As we noted in that post, better use of equipment has to be part of the solution for preventing back injuries and other harm caused by difficult lifting requirements on the job.
If you got hurt while handling baggage at DIA, or suffered any other job-related injury, it’s important to know your legal rights. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can explain what is available under the work comp system and how to pursue those benefits.