As California flight attendants may or may not have been aware, up until recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was not involved in crew member safety. Workplace injuries were the purview of the FAA. However, a new policy will soon be published that will change that.
The new policy will establish the parameters of OSHA's involvement in outlining acceptable working conditions on board aircraft. The three main areas where it is said OSHA will provide the most guidance and oversight are chemical hazards, noise and blood-borne pathogens. OSHA will also be enforcing rules governing access to and record keeping of medical records and employee exposure.
The FAA and OSHA will be working together to ensure that flight attendants working conditions are safe while balancing that with the need for general aviation safety. Neither agency believes that OSHA will have to conduct investigations on aircraft in order to make sure that the rules are followed. OSHA will not begin enforcement until six months after the new policy has been published.
Flight attendants worldwide and here in California know that their job comes with risks. Every time they board a plane, the potential for workplace injuries exists. However, there are ways that the safety of flight attendants can be enhanced in order to reduce the probability of at least some types of injuries without putting a flight at risk. Both the FAA and OSHA recognize this fact and this new policy is an attempt to make sure that airlines are doing what they can to keep flight attendants safe while they work, which could ultimately make flights safer for everyone.
Source: Risk & Insurance Online, Airline crew members to benefit from OSHA protections, Nancy Grover, Sept. 27, 2013