Air Transportation Workers Face Increased Risks of Workplace Injuries & Illness, Labor Report Shows

Chicago is home to O’Hare International Airport, the world’s second-busiest airport in the world by numbers of departures and arrivals. As the largest Mega Hub in the U.S., Chicago O’Hare is home to thousands of workers responsible for maintaining operations, facilities, and infrastructure around the airport, as well as numerous others who work for various companies, contractors, and services involved in air transportation. With such a bustling work environment, those who work at and out of Chicago O’Hare and other airports certainly face many risks in their day-to-day jobs. However, a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that these workers may actually face some of the highest risks of any industry in the U.S.

The labor report, released in early May, reveals data that speaks volumes about the increased risks air transportation workers face on the job. Here are a few key details

  • In 2016 alone, air transportation workers averaged 6.7 non-fatal cases of workplace injury and illness per 100 full-time workers.
  • The 6.7 cases per 100 workers is more than twice the average rate of 2.9 cases for all private industry laborers.
  • The high rates of injuries and illnesses in the sector, which are an increase over the previous year, were contributed to by increased in injuries involving scheduled air transportation (actual flights and flight services) and passenger air transportation.

These high rates of injuries and job-related illnesses span a large and diversified workforce, and most commonly affect:

  • Cargo and luggage handlers
  • Ground traffic safety crews
  • Maintenance workers
  • Flight attendants
  • Ticket agents and travel clerks
  • Pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Airport security

Even though some positions in the air transportation industry may not appear as dangerous as those in other private industry jobs, the numbers show that rates of injuries and illnesses that cause time away from work are far higher than the rate for all private industry employees. For example, flight attendants experienced job-related illnesses or injuries that kept them out of work at a rate of 515 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2016, and ticket agents / travel clerks at a rate of 145 cases, compared to just 91 cases for all private industry workers.

Understanding Your Rights After a Workplace Accident

The numbers make it clear that air transportation workers perform their jobs on hazardous worksites. These hazards include not only the typical dangers we associate with workplace injuries – such as heavy machinery, motor vehicle traffic, working from heights, and falling objects – but also substantial risks associated with occupational illnesses, as airports like Chicago O’Hare host millions of people from all over the world, and expose workers to various diseases.

In cases where work injuries or occupational illnesses are severe enough to prohibit working and earning an income, workers may have the right to seek benefits through their employer’s workers compensation insurance. At Leonard Law Group, our Chicago workers’ comp attorneys have helped thousands of clients throughout Illinois navigate this process, and have secured millions of dollars on their behalves. If you wish to learn more about your rights after suffering a job-related injury or illness, contact us for a free consultation.
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