Baggage handlers at airports have physical work to do as they move the luggage around. They must ensure they have everything going to the correct flights, and they have to be sure that they are keeping themselves safe. These airlines should have clear guidance for baggage handlers about what’s safe and what to avoid.
There are several hazards for these workers to remain aware of as they work. The exact location and job duties they are responsible for determine what hazards they are facing. Once they know the risks, they can take steps to reduce the likelihood that they will suffer injuries.
Manual baggage and cart handling
Workers who manually move baggage or carts must be careful to use proper body mechanics during the process. Many items they move are heavy or bulky. This makes them difficult to move alone, so team lifts are common.
Airlines should have the weight of heavy items clearly marked on tags to make it easier for team members to know whether they need to have any assistance lifting them. Even when the items aren’t heavy, having someone help you lift it might be necessary if you have to move in an awkward position or twist when you are moving them.
When you have to transfer baggage from the cart to the beltloader, try to park the cart as close to the beltloader as possible. Three to five feet is ideal since it gives you space to move without you having to carry items a long distance.
Beltloader, cargo bin, and loading bridge
These three jobs come with a lot of bending and odd lifting positions. You have to be sure that you are taking care of your back when you are in this position. Try to keep the baggage as close to your body as possible so that you aren’t putting as much strain on your arms, shoulders and back. Bend you knees when you can instead of bending over at the waist.
There might be times when you can use a hand truck or manual cart to move items. This is usually a good option so that you are minimizing the work your back is doing. Just be sure to use those devices in the intended manner so you aren’t at risk of suffering an injury.
When you suffer an injury at work, you will likely need medical care. Some airlines balk at workers’ compensation claims, but obtaining those benefits is your right as an injured worker. The onus is on the airline to provide you with a safe working environment.