Preventing Non-fatal Aviation-related Injuries & Illnesses in Alaska

Mechanic works on aircraft engine, workers place tail stands under aircraft in preparation for loading. Photo credit - NIOSH
Mechanic works on aircraft engine, workers place tail stands under aircraft in preparation for loading. Photo credit - NIOSH

Alaska experienced a nonfatal workplace injury and illness incidence rate of 3.3 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 2021, significantly greater than the national rate of 2.7.1 In 2021, the incidence rate for nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses for the air transportation industry (NAICS Code 481) in Alaska was 5.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers.2 The health burden, medical costs, and cost of work loss resulting from non-fatal occupational injury and illness are substantial. For medical services delivered during 2019, the State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development received over 180,000 reports of occupational injury or illness, with more than $58 million paid in workers’ compensation benefits for more than 8,900 claims.3

NIOSH  partnered with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to analyze workers’ compensation data for aviation-related injuries and illnesses.  Descriptive analyses of the workers’ compensation data was conducted and reports of injury/illness were categorized by type, severity, and body part affected; claimant occupation; employer industry and industry sector; and geographical location where the injury/illness occurred. Results of this analysis are found in the article Workers’ compensation injury claims of aviation industry worker injuries in Alaska, 2014–2015.

These findings were used in the development of a statewide survey of airline operators. The survey will provide information on the characteristics of the aviation industry in Alaska, company and worker practices, operational policies, and perceptions and beliefs regarding aviation safety. This information will be used to inform safety recommendations, guide intervention development and implementation, and direct future research.

For more information on the previous survey that was conducted in 2000–2001, please see Survey and Analysis of Air Transportation Safety Among Air Carrier Operators and Pilots in Alaska.

Other Aviation Safety and Health Projects at NIOSH

Aircrew Safety and Health
Aircrew job hazards have changed over the years, from cigarette smoke on flights to heightened safety concerns as a result of 9/11. Aircrew, including pilots and flight attendants, experience the mental and physical stress of the job as well as potential hazards, such as cosmic radiation, communicable disease, and pesticides. Here you can learn more about common crewmember concerns, and what you can do to keep yourself safe and healthy.

Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders among Airport Baggage Screeners and Handlers
Baggage screeners and handlers at airports are exposed to manual baggage lifting and handling that are associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) evaluated two mechanical lift aids to determine if they could reduce the risk of WMSDs. The two mechanical lift aids reduced some physical WMSD risk factors such as hand loading and spinal compression force