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Injuries in airport baggage make-up rooms

In the second of our blog posts on airport baggage handling, we look at injuries that happen in the baggage make-up room.

Speed in baggage handling is a concern in every airport. But given the size of the facility, it's especially important at Denver International Airport. Thus, workers at Denver International Airport are under constant pressure to maintain speed and efficiency at all stages of the baggage handling process. This is especially so at baggage sorting stations at the gates during periods of high plane arrivals and departures.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created an e-tool covering work injuries resulting from airport baggage handling procedures. This blog post will summarize some of the information in the e-tool concerning baggage make-up room injuries and how to minimize them.

When lifting bags on and off of conveyor belts, OSHA notes that injuries can occur when baggage handlers:

  • Repetitively transfer bags while twisting the torso.
  • Transfer very heavy bags.
  • Bend over and reach farther to grasp bag handles.
  • Handle oddly-shaped boxes or objects.
  • Repetitively handle bags at high speeds at times of high baggage flow.

Minimizing injuries in the baggage make-up room

OSHA provides some pointers on things management and workers can do to reduce the possibility of baggage handling injuries:

  • Management should educate workers in proper baggage handling methods.
  • Whenever possible, workers should use both hands to grasp a bag rather than repetitively using only one hand.
  • At the start of the shift, workers should perform stretching exercises to limber the shoulders, arms, and back.
  • Ticket counter agents should attach "heavy" tags to identify particularly heavy items.
  • Workers taking bags off conveyors and carts should slide bags toward them before lifting them.

Regarding carts, OSHA recommends that:

  • When possible, workers should angle a cart to minimize the need to twist the torso.
  • Workers should avoid stacking bags on carts above shoulder height.
  • If a cart has to be repositioned, it should be pushed rather than pulled. Also, ask another worker to help you move it rather than doing it on your own.
  • Management should make sure that carts are periodically serviced, including seeing to it that cart curtains are lubricated, tires are properly inflated, and brakes are in good working order.

Baggage handlers who have suffered injuries while on the job are entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits. They should speak with an experienced attorney concerning their rights.

Part 1 - Baggage Handling Injuries at the Ticket Counter

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