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United Airlines reaches settlement over baggage handler injuries

Staff Writer | December 27, 2016
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a precedent-setting agreement with United Airlines to protect its employees from future injuries by improving its baggage-handling operation.
United Airlines worker
Airline   A precedent-setting agreement
The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by the department on behalf of its Occupational Safety and Health Administration to eliminate several hazardous conditions its inspectors identified in United's baggage-handling operation at Newark.

The agreement settles a citation that the OSHA Parsippany Area Office issued to United Airlines following an inspection at Newark Liberty. OSHA's inspection found five hazardous activities and conditions in United's baggage-handling operations that contributed to the high rate of injuries.

In its settlement, United Airlines agrees to install mechanical conveyor belts on the passenger jet bridges located throughout its regional terminal.

Mechanical conveyors will reduce employee exposure to known hazards by eliminating the need for the handlers to lift and lower passenger luggage to and from the jet bridges manually.

The company will also retain a qualified expert to perform an evaluation of potential repetitive stress or injury risks in baggage-handling operations at Newark Liberty and to make recommendations to improve worker safety there.

Additionally, the airline must adopt the expert's recommendations or similar measures to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury, and form a dedicated safety committee comprised of the expert, as well as both management and employee representatives from the airline.

United Airlines has 90 days to complete the evaluation and must implement all recommendations within two years of the settlement agreement. The agreement gives OSHA authority to monitor the evaluation and abatement implementation process.