3 common workplace injuries baggage handlers suffer

29 Oct, 2014
By: Donald W Fohrman
Baggage handling can be a dangerous job. Airline employees spend many hours a day grasping, lifting, moving and adjusting heavy luggage. These activities can lead to severe workplace injuries. According to a study sponsored by the Flight Safety Foundation, more than 70 percent of baggage handlers have faced some degree of pain or impairment because of their job. By learning more about common injuries and strategies to avoid them, Illinois baggage handlers can decrease their chance of injury.
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Lower back injuries

The lower back is crucially important in the task of lifting heavy bags. Much of the work on the baggage ramp is done by this strong combination of muscles, tendons and vertebrae. When employees use their lower back in an improper fashion, they may suffer a career-ending injury. Any of the following bad habits can damage the back muscles:

  • Bending at the waist rather than at the knees
  • Twisting the back while lifting and moving baggage
  • Handling excessively heavy loads without assistance

A lower back injury can require months or even years away from work for a full recovery. It is unwise to risk an on-the-job accident and long-term disability for the sake of saving a few seconds on the ramp.

Head injuries

Baggage handling involves heavy items which are often placed at a considerable height. If a bag or package falls on a baggage handler’s head, a severe head injury may occur. A 50-pound suitcase can cause a fractured skull or brain trauma if it is allowed to drop. Handlers also face the risk of head injuries while working outdoors in wet, icy or snowy conditions. Slipping and falling on a slick surface can lead to permanent damage.

Repetitive trauma

Not all trauma on the baggage ramp is sudden and dramatic. Hours of repetitive work can cause long-term stress and joint degeneration. Many baggage handlers are forced to switch to light duty or retire early because of strain on muscles, tendons and bones. These injured workers have equal rights to compensation and retraining, even if their injuries take years to develop.

Working for a safer profession

Some baggage handling injuries are preventable. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a set of guidelines for baggage handlers to minimize the risk of trauma on the job. By following proper ergonomic procedures, using appropriate safety equipment and reporting unsafe conditions promptly, workers can decrease the chance of injury.

Know your rights as a baggage handler

Injured baggage handlers have the right to full compensation, medical treatment and vocational retraining when necessary. Find out more about your options by getting in touch with a personal injury attorney today.

About The Author

Photo of Donald W Fohrman
After completing law school Donald became an assistant Attorney General for 7 years and was assigned to the Industrial Commission Division. During that time he spent evenings establishing his own firm. Donald became a founding partner of a large workers’ compensation/personal injury firm but decided to leave the firm in 1990 to start a smaller “boutique” firm with the belief that bigger isn’t always better!
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