About twenty years ago, we met with a man and woman who both had several fingers amputated due to a workplace injury that left them with missing and crushed fingers. These workers were baggage handlers at an airport. After learning about the details of their injuries, our team came to an important realization that would ultimately impact baggage handlers’ lives for the better.
This realization was that baggage handlers nationwide are at risk of serious, yet preventable injuries when they report to work each day. After talking to multiple people who also sustained the same kind of injury, we began investigating ways to prevent this. What we found was important yet alarming.
Equipment Problems Lead to Amputation Injuries
When we first started this investigation twenty years ago, we found that the way that bags were maneuvered put baggage handlers at serious risk. The design of the mechanisms included pulling a handle on a cart, dropping a pin into an eye; and ultimately, the inertia of pulling the cart would lend itself to crushed fingers and hands. We recognized that it was not the fault of employees but instead the responsibility of the manufacturer’s design.
Losing Fingers is a Common Baggage Handler Injury
Despite years of baggage handlers losing fingers and having their hands crushed at work, no one was talking about it or figuring out why this continued to happen. This was shocking as this sort of workplace injury was impacting employees for the rest of their lives. Losing fingers not only prevented them from returning to work as a baggage handler but also got in the way of them living their lives to the fullest extent. Lastly, it cost the baggage handlers thousands of dollars in medical bills to treat their hand injuries.
If you are a baggage handler and have sustained significant injuries due to unsafe work conditions, you may be entitled to some sort of compensation. Call Schwarz & Schwarz, P.C. at (215) 925-1200 to find out more about the compensation you may be entitled to.
The Equipment Solution
During this time there was no solution to understand how this could be prevented, and there was also no information on how many baggage handlers this happened to. The only way that we were able to identify other people that sustained these kinds of injuries was by word of mouth as this was before the age of the internet. Therefore, this system-wide issue was too hard to quantify, yet still needed to be addressed.
The System-Wide Effect of Unsafe Equipment and Subcontractors
As we work towards addressing this flaw in the system, we have found that the system-wide effect of unsafe equipment, as well as vendors, is enormous and is an issue that is present throughout the entire country. With that being said, below are some of the significant issues that go arise from this faulty system:
- Workers Not Returning Home Safely. Employers should always be looking to protect and ensure that their employees come home safely; it’s their obligation to provide the employees with a safe work environment.
- Increased Lost Time. If employee equipment and conditions are unsafe there is bound to be a vast amount of lost time at work.
- Increased Workers’ Compensation Costs. Workers’ compensation costs are skyrocketing. To lower workers’ compensation costs for the companies, unsafe equipment and vendors should be monitored and/or removed.
What’s Next for Baggage Handler Safety?
At Schwarz & Schwarz, P.C., our team of talented and knowledgeable lawyers are working tirelessly to find a solution to the issues listed above. Our goal is to provide baggage handlers with a safe work environment and with the legal support they may need if they were impacted by unsafe work conditions.
If you have been affected by unsafe work conditions as a baggage handler we may be able to help. Contact Schwarz & Schwarz, P.C. at (215) 925-1200 today to let us know how we can help you.