OSHA Steps In on Flight Attendant Safety Issues

FAA and OSHA proposed the new policy on Nov. 30.

In a significant change, the Federal Aviation Administration and OSHA have proposed a new policy for addressing flight attendants’ safety on the job. They agreed that, while FAA's aviation safety regulations take precedence, OSHA will enforce certain occupational safety and health standards, such as for noise, bloodborne pathogens, and hazardous chemical exposures, that are not currently covered by FAA's oversight.

Congress required this through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, in which it required FAA to develop a policy statement to outline the circumstances in which OSHA requirements could apply to crew members while they are working on aircraft. The policy notice was sent to the Federal Register on Nov. 30 and is available here. There will be a 30-day comment period.

"Safety is our highest priority and that certainly extends to those who work in the transportation industry," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Under this proposal, flight attendants would, for the first time, be able to report workplace injury and illness complaints to OSHA for response and investigation."

"The policy announced today with the FAA will not only enhance the health and safety of flight attendants by connecting them directly with OSHA, but will, by extension, improve the flying experience of millions of airline passengers," said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

The agencies' announcement said FAA and OSHA will continue working to identify additional conditions where OSHA requirements could apply and will establish procedures to ensure OSHA does not apply any requirement that could affect aviation safety. "Flight attendants contribute to the safe operation of every flight each day. This proposed policy is an important step toward establishing procedures for resolving flight attendant workplace health and safety concerns," said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.

"We look forward to working with the FAA and the airlines to assure the protection of flight attendants," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

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