OSHA Airport Safety

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OSHA standards provide guidance to private and public employers on how to keep their employees healthy and safe. According to the OSHA Act Section 5(a)1, "the General Duty Clause requires employers to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." Maintaining a safe working environment is an essential responsibility of being an employer.

Heavy Lifting

Airport baggage handlers routinely lift heavy luggage and packages. Lifting luggage and packages weighing 50 lbs. or more always poses the risk for severe back injury. Employees must always be aware of safe lifting procedures and guidelines that have been established by OSHA. Employees should always wear back support belts and avoid excessive twisting or overreaching when lifting heavy objects. Baggage handlers should always use both hands to lift a suitcase or heavy package.

Noise Level

The noise level that a worker is allowed to be exposed to is determined by a formula that factors in the level of sound, and the length of time you are exposed to an increased noise level. Noise level is measured in decibels (dBA). The maximum noise level that the standards allow exposure to is 140 dBA. Workers exposed to noise levels at or above 85 dBA should be wearing some form of hearing protection or be shielded from the noise.


OSHA standards are designed to help employers and employees recognize hazards that exist in the workplace. Airport employees are exposed to hazardous fumes from jet engine exhaust, and exposure to fuel vapors during refueling operations. Repairs that must be made inside of a fuel tank require special precautions to protect a worker from being overcome with fuel vapors. When fuel vapors cannot be mitigated by ventilation, OSHA directives prescribe the wear of respirators.

Extreme Hazards

The most extreme hazard that airport workers may face is an aircraft accident that involves serious injuries through fire and catastrophic damage to the aircraft structure. The first responders to an aircraft accident will be the airport fire department. Fire personnel require specific safety equipment to ensure their personal safety during rescue and fire suppression operations. Fire safety equipment includes respirators, fire resistant clothing that protects the entire body including head and foot gear, and hand protection.