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United Airlines cited for exposing workers to electrical, other hazards

Same hazards found in 2011, 2013

OSHA Enforcement ActivityUnited Airlines Inc. has exposed ground operation workers at the Newark airport to hazardous conditions, prompting OSHA to issue 16 citations and propose penalties of $101,300.

The safety violations were found during a January 2014 inspection that is part of an OSHA effort to focus on workplaces with high rates of injuries and illness. The inspection found three repeat violations that had been discovered by OSHA during inspections in 2011 and 2013.

Workers not the only ones affected

"These workers face electrical hazards, falls, and being struck-by objects and equipment daily," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA"s Parsippany Area Office.. Their safety is critical. Airline ground operations safety is of vital importance, not only to the workers, but to the millions of Americans who depend on air travel every day."

Carrying a $55,000 penalty, the repeat violations were cited for United Continental Holdings Inc. for failing to clearly mark exits located inside facilities where food service employees, baggage handlers and gate agents worked; keep unused openings closed on an electrical box where conduit or knockout plugs were located; and use extension cords as a substitute for required permanent wiring at Newark Liberty International

The company was cited for nine serious violations, with a $46,300 penalty, including exposing aircraft mechanics to fall hazards while working from a ground support vehicle and struck-by hazards by storing materials, such as aircraft parts including landing gear tires and aircraft struts and fasteners, on storage racks, which were damaged and not anchored. United Airlines also failed to:

  • Properly guard equipment, store materials and dispose of waste materials.
  • Ensure exits were unobstructed and wide enough and place directional signs in areas where exits were not apparent.
  • Ensure employees operating tugs to transport luggage used seat belts.
  • Use power strips according to manufacturer"s recommendations.
  • Use ladders for purposes intended by the manufacturer, and remove damaged ladders from service.

Powered truck violations

Three other safety violations involved failing to maintain clean and orderly work areas, and not providing fire extinguisher training for ground operation workers and welders. Additionally, powered industrial trucks in need of repair were not taken out of service, and placards on the trucks were illegible.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/UnitedAirlines_954623_0710_14.pdf*

For more information on safety and health in the airline industry, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/airline_industry/index.html

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