Any job that requires manual labor presents a risk of injury to the workers who perform it. The more difficult the physical labor and the more complicated the motions that workers perform, the more likely they are to suffer injuries. Doing the same job or task for extended periods of time can also increase the risk of a worker suffering injuries because of their job.
Baggage handlers at airports often have a thankless job that runs a high risk of injury. If they do everything right, people don’t notice they exist, but when they make little mistakes like dropping a bag, the result can be an expensive claim against the airport and potentially a write-up that could affect their job in the future.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the difficult physical labor involved in baggage handling leaves workers at increased risk for serious, lasting injuries on the job. Even workers who can safely navigate an environment with dangerous moving machinery for years could wind up hurting their back, arms or shoulders because of the manual work they perform.
Ergonomics and safe work practices help but can’t eliminate risk
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has rules in place to promote proper ergonomics for baggage handlers. Ergonomics relate to the set-up of a workstation and the way that people perform a job so that it minimizes the risk of injury.
For baggage handlers, ergonomic concerns include reducing the amount of lifting that takes place, as well as minimizing twisting and other actions that could lead to injury. However, given the intensely physical nature of the job, even baggage handlers who take great care to reduce the strain on their body could wind up injured.
Sometimes, all it takes is an unusually heavy suitcase to leave someone with an injury to their shoulder, arms, hands or even back. That injury could very well mean the end of your job as a baggage handler, as repetitive strain injuries tend to get worse over time without rest. That means you can’t keep lifting and moving heavy suitcases if you want to fully heal.
Workers’ compensation can cover injuries related to baggage handling
Some people wrongly believe that the only time they qualify for workers’ compensation is if there is a major accident. While it is true that workers’ compensation extends coverage to those who get hurt by machinery or experience a catastrophic accident while on the job, it also protects workers who gradually develop an injury over time because of the work they perform.
Baggage handlers with muscular or connective tissue injuries that inhibit their ability to do their job can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits that include disability benefits for lost or reduced wages and full medical coverage.