The nation’s flight attendants will gain workplace health and safety protection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under a proposed new policy announced by OSHA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
While OSHA safety and health standards apply to most of America's workers, airline crews have been under the jurisdiction of the FAA since 1975, when the agency claimed exclusive jurisdiction over workplace safety and health for all crew members when they are on board the aircraft.
Since then, aviation unions have fought to bring OSHA protections to flight attendants through the courts and the regulatory process. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) President Veda Shook says:
AFA looks forward to continuing work with the FAA and OSHA, as we finally bring vital safety and health protections to our nation’s flight attendants.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says the new policy “will not only enhance the health and safety of flight attendants by connecting them directly with OSHA but will by extension improve the flying experience of millions of airline passengers."
The FAA reauthorization bill, passed earlier this year and signed by President Obama, required the FAA and OSHA to work together to develop a policy for flight attendant safety and health. Under the proposal, the FAA will retain jurisdiction over aviation safety issues, while OSHA will deal with health and safety issues in the cabin.
Transport Workers (TWU) President James C. Little says:
Everybody has the right to a safe, healthy workplace, whether you work in an office, factory or 30,000 feet in the sky.
AFA-CWA represents some 60,000 flight attendants and some 11,000 flight attendants are TWU members.