Being a baggage handler is a physically demanding and strenuous job for workers, potentially putting their physical health in jeopardy every day. Baggage handlers are crucial employees of an airport; without them, luggage would not make it on the right flights in an organized fashion, and bags would likely be lost. However, with this crucial job, baggage handlers find themselves at risk of serious injury as they are regularly lifting and quickly moving heavy objects.

This post is going to provide tips to help you avoid the most common injuries that baggage handlers suffer.

If you are a baggage handler, it’s important to know how to do your job safely and effectively in order to prevent injury. Here are some ways that you can maintain your career as a baggage handler in a way that will keep your body safe and prevent you from suffering from a work-related injury. 

If you are a baggage handler that has been injured on the job, you may be eligible for some type of financial compensation. Contact the law firm of Schwarz & Schwarz, P.C. at (215) 925-1200 to find out if your work-related injury qualifies you for compensation.

The Most Common Injuries that Baggage Handlers Face at Work

Work-related injuries, in this case, those suffered by baggage handlers, can impact a person for the rest of their life. Here are some of the most common workplace injuries that baggage handlers face. 

Injury to the Lower Back 

Baggage handlers have a high risk of injuring their back.

Due to performing repetitive motions, for hours a day and for many days in a row, the lower back is subject to a variety of injuries. Some of the most common lower back injuries that baggage handlers suffer from include:

  • A slipped disk
  • Sciatica pain
  • Lumbar strain
  • Nerve irritation

In addition to performing the same repetitive motion, baggage handlers also have to lift heavy objects, which put a direct strain on the lower back muscles as well as the spine, called spinal loading.

Musculoskeletal Injuries 

In addition to hurting your back, you are also at risk of suffering from other musculoskeletal injuries. Several musculoskeletal injuries that baggage handlers typically suffer from include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Muscle and tendon strain
  • Tension Neck Syndrome
  • Wrist injuries
  • Elbow injuries

These workplace injuries come from doing the same motion over and over. Joints, muscles, and tissues in the body can begin to deteriorate, and nerves can become severely damaged from continually lifting and moving bags. 

Head or Other Trauma from Physical Impact

As baggage handlers are loading bags, it’s possible that they can suffer some sort of trauma to a part of the body; usually to the head. Bags can also fall onto a person’s head from high altitudes causing a head injury that may impact the employee for the rest of his or her life. Similarly, other baggage handlers can accidentally hit their coworker while loading bags, causing them to suffer head trauma.

Or, a baggage handler can suffer physical trauma by crushing a hand or finger underneath heavy luggage. 

Airplane Tug Accidents

Airplane tugs are battery-operated machines that push an aircraft from one point on the ground to another. As these machines can pull a plane, these machines are also extremely strong; and with that strength comes a variety of potential accidents for airport staff, especially baggage handlers.

Baggage handlers can be hit by airplane tugs, causing extreme physical issues, and in some cases, death. A baggage handler can get struck by a tug if  he or she is not paying attention, or if the driver is not following the correct protocol. 

How to Prevent Injuries as a Baggage Handler

To avoid injury while on the job, a baggage handler should take proper precautions and look into how to prevent work-related injuries. Below are four simple and easy tips that baggage handlers can do to stop work-related injuries before they happen.

Tip #1 Avoid Back Injuries Through Proper Handling Techniques 

Learning proper handling techniques is crucial for baggage handlers when it comes to preventing a work-related injury. When a baggage handler is trained, they will likely be trained in the basics; however, they should also take it upon themself to learn the proper baggage handling techniques in greater detail to prevent an injury. Some essential baggage handling techniques to know include:

  • Bend your knees when lifting
  • If you are lifting something large, squat down, get a good grip on it, then stand back up slowly
  • Do not twist when lifting/carrying luggage
  • Do not carry bulky luggage for long
  • Don’t throw bags with force; instead, lightly toss or place the bags
  • Grab the sides of the bag with both hands and always lift with both hands

Tip #2 Make an Effort to Practice Exercises That Will Preserve The Musculoskeletal System

This is something that you as a baggage handler will have to do on your own time; however, it is worth your while. Exercises that preserve the musculoskeletal system train your body to get used to repetitive motions. Likewise, these exercises build strength and tolerance towards certain movements that cause wear and tear to the body’s musculoskeletal system. Some exercises to practice in order to prevent damage to the musculoskeletal system include:

  • Weight training; specifically weight training that strengthens the shoulders and biceps 
  • Flexibility movements such as arm, chest and back stretches
  • Walking, swimming, cycling; these activities will keep the body strong and less susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries

These exercises lessen the strain that handling heavy bags and repeating the same motion will have on the body. 

Tip #3 To Prevent Injury From an Impact, Don’t Try to Catch Falling Bags

Catching falling bags can lead to several work-related injuries, usually to the head or hands. If you see a bag falling or about to fall, instead of trying to catch it, let it fall and move out of the way. Falling bags can be extremely heavy and can cause injuries that may lead to head injury or broken bones.

Tip #4 Utilize Technology to Avoid Musculoskeletal Injuries

Technology can significantly reduce the musculoskeletal risks of a baggage handler. Carts, dollies, and other lifting mechanisms are designed to move heavy objects, it’s important to take advantage of them. Instead of trying to lift and move a heavy object on your own, use a cart or dolly in order to avoid injury.

Tip #5 Follow the Right Protocols to Prevent Tug Accidents

A majority of the protocols that need to be followed in regards to airplane tugs must be followed by those actually operating the tugs. However, baggage handlers can follow some of those protocols too, the most important being to verify clearance. Baggage handlers should make sure tugs are not coming their way as they are crossing a taxiway or runway.

Tug accidents are most often preventable if the driver of the machine is following protocol, and other airport staff, in this case, the baggage handlers, are alert and paying attention. 

Preventing Injuries as a Baggage Handler

Baggage handlers put their safety at risk every day. Workplace injuries are not something to take lightly; work-related injuries can impact workers for the rest of their lives and can be extremely costly. 

If you are a baggage handler, you must take all precautions to prevent work-related injuries and to preserve your health and safety. Or, if you or a loved one have been injured while handling bags on the job, you may be entitled to some financial compensation. To learn more about whether or not you may qualify for financial compensation associated with an injury, contact the law firm of Schwarz & Schwarz, P.C. today at (215) 925-1200.