When you consider all the catastrophic injuries those who work in the airline industry may suffer, those that occur to baggage handlers may not seem all that serious. And while they may not risk being attacked by terrorists or unruly passengers or being killed in a plane crash, baggage handlers can definitely get hurt on the job.
Below are some example of baggage handler injuries and how they might be able to be prevented.
Manual baggage handling injuries
During the course of a day’s work loading and unloading customers’ baggage at the airport, they likely will have to shoulder heavy, unwieldy and uneven loads that could cause them to tear a muscle or ligament, or rupture a disc in their back.
Another hazard baggage handlers face is having heavy suitcases and parcels fall down on top of them. Serious head and neck injuries can arise from these acute incidents on the job.
All are painful and motion-limiting injuries that can cause baggage handlers to miss work, seek treatment and perhaps even need surgery. Being out of work and facing a pile of medical bills may necessitate the injured handlers filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
Avoid these common injuries
One way to keep baggage handlers from picking up an unsuspectingly heavy bag or parcel is to use specially colored or marked tags indicating that it is a heavy load. Not stacking baggage where it can create a falling hazard is another.
Mechanical baggage handling also presents risks
One might posit that using mechanical carts to transport baggage will avert many of the above problems. Certainly the shorter distance that a baggage handler has to carry the bags is preferable to staggering under heavy loads all day.
But those bags still have to be loaded on and off of the cart. This can result in a day spent bending and twisting to load and offload full carts. Also, maneuvering a baggage cart that weighs in excess of 1,000 lbs. into tight loading areas can strain muscles.
Try this instead
Doing pre-work stretching exercises to loosen up your muscles and joints may be helpful. Parking the mechanized cart no more than five feet from the loading area will reduce the distance you must traverse carrying baggage. With the tagged heavy bags, using a dolly to maneuver them to the cart can reduce the likelihood of strains, sprains and muscle tears.
Understand your rights under the law
Federal statutes and Colorado laws regarding on-the-job injuries may be confusing. Learning more about your right to seek compensation after being hurt on the job is prudent.