What do you get when you combine an unrelenting schedule, heavy objects, extreme weather and moving equipment? A day in the life of a baggage handler.
The Denver International Airport is considered the world's second-largest based on land area. With more than 52 square miles, it's even larger than Manhattan. And like Manhattan, the airport welcomes millions of visitors each year and also has an ice skating rink, but not quite as famous as the one at Rockefeller Center.
Since Frontier Airlines is headquartered in Denver, it should not be a surprise that Colorado employs over 3,200 flight attendants. Most flight attendants work in the scheduled air transportation industry.
Pilots and flight attendants often get the most attention among airline employees, but the ground crew and their roles they play remain a vital part of an airport's inner workings.
Airline pilots and cabin crew members are consistently exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation than the general population. This could explain why they face a significantly higher risk for developing melanoma. A comprehensive review of 19 study records involving more than 250,000 participants found that pilots and air crew have "twice the incidence of melanoma compared with the general population."
Around the country, some 400,000 airport and airline employees and vendors must lift heavy luggage every day. This number includes baggage handlers, screeners for the Transportation Security Administration, flight attendants, gate agents, aircraft maintenance, ticket counter personnel, taxi and shuttle drivers all must hoist bags up and down in order to get people places.
Many airline pilots and flight attendants have experienced a "fume event" while flying. That can happen when bleed air from the engines (containing fumes from high-temperature synthetic oil) is brought into the cabin for heating purposes. If the concentration of toxic fumes is too high, then pilots, cabin crew, and passengers can become sickened or even pass out.
Airport workers can suffer injuries anywhere, but those working in the ramp area are particularly vulnerable. Workers loading and unloading baggage onto planes must often perform their duties in cramped spaces which force their bodies into awkward positions. At Denver International Airport, ramp area baggage handling operations in winter are frequently complicated by severe weather conditions. Accumulation of snow and ice can increase the potential for accidents during the baggage loading and unloading process. Workers in the ramp area also risk injury from vehicles and hearing loss from excessive noise.
In the second of our blog posts on airport baggage handling, we look at injuries that happen in the baggage make-up room.
Boss, this work uniform makes me sick. Literally.