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Workplace injuries: No more heavy lifting for baggage handlers

New York Newark International Airport workers will be relieved to learn that they may have safer workplace environments in the future. Reportedly, United Airline has agreed to settle a 2015 lawsuit. As part of the settlement, an ergonomics study will find ways to eliminate musculoskeletal and repetitive motion workplace injuries.

The lawsuit brought to light the fact that an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation determined that the number of injuries caused by baggage handling from 2011 through 2015 exceeded 620. These occurred when workers had to lift and lower baggage of varying weights onto and off the jet bridges. These actions require awkward body postures and can cause severe damage.

United endeavored to install conveyor belts that will provide mechanical transport of baggage on jet bridges. The agreed upon ergonomics evaluation will be done by an expert who is qualified to recommend improvements that will limit repetitive injury and stress risks. The court ordered the airport to adopt the recommendations, bring about the changes and appoint a safety committee representing management and employees to address future issues.

Repetitive stress injuries can be debilitating and may cause chronic pain, requiring long-term medical treatment. New York workers are entitled to pursue workers’ compensation benefits claims after suffering workplace injuries that led to medical expenses and lost wages. However, proving that musculoskeletal injuries are work-related may be challenging. Soft tissue injuries often develop over time, and the severity may only become evident gradually. Successful navigation of workers’ compensation benefits claims for these injuries may be best accomplished with the support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Source:, “United settles lawsuit over Newark baggage-handler working conditions“, Aaron Karp, Dec. 29, 2016

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