Some US workplace safety rules to apply to cabin crews

Washington DC
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US regulators have taken steps to improve workplace safety for airline cabin crewmembers.

In a policy released 21 August, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says certain workplace safety standards set by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will now apply to flight attendants working on aircraft.

OSHA also now has authority to enforce the standards, which will not apply to pilots, says the FAA.

The standards relate to communications to workers about hazardous chemicals, exposure to blood-borne pathogens and hearing conservation programs.

OSHA's hearing conservation programs require employers to measure noise levels and provide free annual hearing exams and free hearing protection, according to OSHA's website.

The policy also says OSHA may enforce rules related to recordkeeping and access to employee exposure and medical records.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), a union representing some 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines, praised the FAA's move and took partial credit.

"This change will improve the working conditions of tens of thousands of flight attendants while benefiting the millions of passengers who travel on commercial flights every day," Veda Shook, AFA's president, says in a media release.

"Today's final policy statement resulted from years of aggressive AFA advocacy for inclusion of flight attendant safety and health protections," the union says.

It adds that the policy is a result of work done by the FAA and OSHA during the administrations of presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The FAA's policy alters a 1975 notice in which the agency determined that it had sole authority to regulate cabin workplace safety.

Now the FAA says its oversight does "not completely encompass the safety and health aspects of the work environments of aircraft crewmembers."

The FAA was required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to outline circumstances under which OSHA requirements could apply to crewmembers on aircraft.

The FAA adds that the agencies will ensure new regulations do not jeopardize aircraft safety.