Being a baggage handler is a very physically demanding job that poses the risk of injury to the people who perform this vital service in our airports. If you are a baggage handler, you could suffer a debilitating injury that requires you to take time work off while you recover or results in you becoming permanently disabled. Under New Jersey law, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay your medical bills and lost wages if you were injured at work. However, you may need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to fight for the benefits that you deserve.
Common Causes of Baggage Handlers’ Workplace Injuries
Baggage handlers must handle luggage in may locations throughout the airport—including the terminal, the tarmac, or on the plane. The luggage and other goods being transported are often heavy, and workers are under constant pressure to move the baggage to its proper location quickly. Common causes of accidents and injuries include:
- Overexertion. Baggage handlers must carry, lift, and load heavy luggage and other baggage that may be oversized or unevenly loaded. In addition, they are required to push and pull carts and cargo bins and position loaders. These workers can suffer overexertion injuries due to carrying items too heavy for them—sometimes on a constant basis.
- Repetitive movements. Many of the movements involved in moving baggage are repetitive and can lead to repetitive stress injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome.
- Awkward positions. When loading and unloading baggage in the cargo bin, workers often must work in cramped conditions or twist their bodies in awkward positions—sometimes multiple times in a day.
- Falling luggage. If luggage or other items are over head or stacked high, they can fall onto a worker, causing him to suffer serious head injuries, fractures, and more.
- Falls. Baggage handlers can suffer serious injuries in a slip and fall accident if the tarmac becomes slippery due to rain, ice, or snow or spills, debris, and other hazards in their work areas are not removed.
- Vehicle and heavy equipment accidents. Baggage handlers must work around vehicles, baggage transport vehicles, and other heavy machinery on the tarmac and in the airport. These workers can suffer life-altering injuries or death if the vehicle or machine driver fails to see them and hits them.
- Caught in machinery. Employees who work around the belt loaders and other machinery can have their clothes, hair, or body parts trapped in the machinery, which may result in a body part being amputated or permanently injured.
- Exposure to weather. Many baggage handlers spend a good amount of their day working outside in extreme weather. They could suffer heat- or cold-related injuries—some life-threatening.
- Shift work disorder. When workers work the night shift, rotating shifts, or excessive hours, they could suffer with shift work disorder, a condition that can cause insomnia, depression, and an inability to concentrate.
- Excessive noise. Baggage handlers must work around loud airplane engines, bag handling equipment, and other loud equipment that can result in them being exposed to excessive noise.
Common Injuries That Baggage Handlers Suffer
Baggage handlers can suffer many injuries that require them to take time off work to recover from their injuries. Some injuries, such as those caused by overexertion and repetitive movements, can be made worse if the injured employee continues to work. Some of the injuries that can lead to a workers’ comp claim include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders that affect the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the shoulders, back, neck, and arms
- Head injuries, such as a fractured skull or traumatic brain injury
- Fractures and broken bones
- Hearing loss
- Spinal injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses
- Frostbite, hypothermia, or trench foot
Are you a baggage handler who needs to file a workers’ compensation claim? I have been helping injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve for over 20 years. To learn how I can help you prove your right to benefits and negotiate your settlement, call my office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.