Friday, March 18, 2005

Pity The Baggage Screeners

I need to stop writing and start reading more blogs. Workers Comp Insider has a couple posts about the back and other ergonomic injuries facing airport baggage screeners. Sure glad we don't have that stinkin' ergonomics standard:
USA Today recently ran a feature on airport baggage screeners and the extraordinarily high rate of injuries that they suffer in the course of their work. Approximately one out of every four workers reports an injury and one out of 8 workers has an injury that requires lost time. Yikes - this makes bag screening one of the nation's most hazardous jobs.

Injured workers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), more than two-thirds of whom are screeners, missed nearly a quarter-million days of work last year. The lost job time has contributed to a staffing shortage that has strained checkpoint security and lengthened lines at airports.

TSA employees injured on the job missed work in 2004 at five times the rate of the rest of the federal workforce. They were injured four times as often as construction-industry workers and seven times as often as miners.
Not that anyone cares about their injuries, but hey, it's slowing down the lines!

Then they go on to diagnose some of management system failures causing the problem, along with some solutions:

The massive hiring of 45,000 security people in the Transportation Security Administration is a classic case study in "not-exactly the best" management practices. Indeed, LynchRyan cautions employers that the "good times" of expansion come with a very high risk for injuries and losses, simply due to the fact that you have to hire so many strangers. Safe hiring, under the best of circumstances, is a huge management challenge. When you combine a new occupation with difficult working conditions and ambiguous job descriptions, you have a recipe for serious trouble.

Workers Comp Insider is sponsored by LynchRyan, "a management consulting firm specializing in workers' compensation cost controls" so hopefully managers -- who probably don't read Confined Space religiously -- are learning something.