OSHA Extended to Our Cabins
November 30, 2012
Dear AFA Members:
We made history today. Four decades after OSHA was created and safety and health protections were extended to the workplace of most Americans, we have finally achieved OSHA protections for Flight Attendants in the aircraft cabin.
A few moments ago the FAA released a policy statement that extends many of the safety and health standards we already have in our workplaces outside the aircraft cabin. This is an enormous achievement and it would not have been possible without the persistent, tireless work of our union.
You were a part of making this happen. For decades AFA has pursued legal and regulatory solutions to extend OSHA safety and health protections to workers in the airline industry. The roadblocks have been enormous, but our union kept this as a priority and through the leadership and dedicated work of our Air Safety, Health and Security Department as well as the grassroots organizing led by our Government Affairs Department and thousands of your calls to Capitol Hill, we succeeded in ensuring that OSHA standards in the cabin were included as part of the FAA reauthorization bill. The bill provided a path, but without our persistence and collaboration with these agencies this policy statement may not have come to fruition. It is our focused and expert work for Flight Attendants that achieved this historical result today.
We must also recognize the Obama Administration for making this possible. Obama appointees lifted roadblocks and determined they could work together to address concerns related to the unique conditions of our work space so that safety and health standards could be applied to the cabin. The Obama Administration supported the work between these agencies, as noted in the FAA press release, with the incredibly supportive statements from Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Not all of our members may be aware of how long we have fought to achieve this result. In 1975, the FAA claimed exclusive jurisdiction over workplace safety and health for all crewmembers, preventing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the agency that regulates the safety and health of most U.S. workers – from protecting Flight Attendants and other crewmembers while working on-board commercial airline flights.
We are meeting with your AFA local leaders at the beginning of next week to review what this policy change will mean for us and when we can expect it to take effect. We will keep AFA members closely advised on implementation and what it means for our work place.
Today is a very good day. Thank you for all you do every day to keep our skies safe.
AFA-CWA International President
AFA-CWA International Vice President
AFA-CWA International Secretary-Treasurer
DOT, DOL, FAA, OSHA Press Release
FAA Proposes Policy to Improve Flight Attendant Workplace Safety
WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), working with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), today proposed a new policy for addressing flight attendant workplace safety.
While the FAA’s aviation safety regulations take precedence, the agency is proposing that OSHA be able to enforce certain occupational safety and health standards currently not covered by FAA oversight.
“Safety is our highest priority and that certainly extends to those who work in the transportation industry,” said U.S. 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 U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
Flight attendant workplace issues could include things such as exposure to noise and bloodborne pathogens, and access to information on hazardous chemicals. The FAA and OSHA will continue to work to identify any additional conditions where OSHA requirements could apply. They will also develop procedures to ensure that OSHA does not apply any requirements that could affect aviation safety.
“Flight attendants contribute to the safe operation of every flight each day,” said Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This proposed policy is an important step toward establishing procedures for resolving flight attendant workplace health and safety concerns.”
“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.
Through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress required the FAA to develop a policy statement to outline the circumstances in which OSHA requirements could apply to crewmembers while they’re working on aircraft.
The policy notice was sent to the Federal Register today and is currently available at http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/ashp/. The 30-day comment period begins when the policy notice is published in the Federal Register.