It is the common opinion that as of date the FAA does not protect the flight attendants. Ten percent of the employees out of thirty one thousand flight attendees still report injuries. (Wood, 2000)
There are no requirements for personnel even to record or report injuries in the program of OSHA. This is not implemented by the Federal Aviation Regulations. OSHA is ignored by most entities while most industries adopted the OSHA. It is to be noted that "the FAA's safety and health qualifications are pretty slim. That's not what FAA regulators do. Their interest in safety tends to be limited to the safety of the airplane" (Wood, 2000) the FAA does not want to implement the OSHA guidelines based on the argument that it is difficult to bifurcate authority and implement something on a service that extends beyond the United States. The FAA however claims that it is reviewing the safety aspect of U.S. registered aircraft and airline employees. The result of the review will result in better standards. (Wood, 2000)
Some notes on the FAA stand
The stand of the FAA has "created a level of distrust that permeates through the Agency; morale is low and retirements are skyrocketing." ("FAA Reauthorization: Opportunity to enhance Aviation Safety and Protect U.S. Workers," n. d.) One suggestion is to get the misinterpretation of the law by FAA by means of agency arbitration. The opinions expressed on the authorization bill should be considered as relevant with the note that the practice of delegating private individuals with the task if safety inspection and reporting ought to be done away with. "The FAA delegates approximately 90% of its safety certification activities through its designee program." ("FAA Reauthorization: Opportunity to enhance Aviation Safety and Protect U.S. Workers," n. d.) it is not that the FAA did not provide guidelines for the safety of the crew. The federal register (40 FR 29114) recognized the role of the authority in looking after in-flight health and safety issues. Many concerted attempts have been made by both, FAA and OSHA to create a framework to deal with the occupational safety as also issues pertaining to the health of the aircraft cabin crewmembers in operation. This later became the Memoranda of Understanding. This failed and the regulations of the FAA for flight crew have regulations in place for proper accident prevention that covers all the issues and hazards that have been discovered for the flight crew. ("FAA / OSHA Aviation Safety and Health Team: First Report," 2000)
It is however acknowledged by the FAA that it is unable to help implement these directives and the efforts of both agencies ended with the determinations that "the workplace for crewmembers (on board civil commercial aircraft) differs significantly from the workplace of non-aviation workers and that FAA must take the lead in promulgating regulations to address these concerns." ("FAA / OSHA Aviation Safety and Health Team: First Report," 2000) This effectively blocked out the OSHA and the FAA finds no authority to enforce what it set out to do in the first place. Federal Aviation Administration -- FAA recognized that the U.S. Aviation industry provides over ten million jobs and there is a need to revamp all regulations to suit changed conditions. This also included the overwork and burden, which coupled with working conditions not allowed by legislation to workers outside the aircraft. In other words, the agency itself agreed that the aircraft cabin differs very much from the normal workplace and therefore safety standards ought to be different. However in practice the agency could not provide the necessary protection and remedy. ("FAA Reauthorization: Opportunity to enhance Aviation Safety and Protect U.S. Workers," n. d.)
All these facts coupled with research findings about the ozone and other natural problems in flight, lack of oxygen and special safety requirements of the crew cannot be brought down to the common employee protection afforded by the OSHA because of the specific requirements of the airline industry. The attempt by the FAA in providing an alternate regulation failed, and in this scenario, what could be the solution? If the FAA will not permit the OSHA to take a part of the authority it is for the legislature to create a separate authority for aviation safety and create norms for employee safety as a separate subject unconnected with the air regulations which is the mainstay of FAA. Only such a move can solve this demand for clarity and authority to implement the legislation.
From the facts detailed above it is clear that there exists a danger to the in-flight crew from various defects and hazards of aviation. There is no denying that injuries caused to personnel on account of tripping, falls are the major accidents to crew members is serious. The accident may be caused by slippery floors, tripping over baggage or air turbulence, fire hazards, smoke, or emissions, bacteria and fungal infections, reduced oxygen, low humidity and ozone problems with fumes, altitude and infectious diseases. As such we may say that there is discrimination for the flight crew and legal anomalies affect the enforcement and application. Power struggle and interdepartmental struggle has caused the non-implementation of OSHA and it is therefore clear that there exists a need to include cabin crew into the ambit of protection. Since both the responsible agencies have failed to implement the existing regulations, it is suggested that the government form a body separately for the aviation industry. This agency must lay down rules of operation and safety of personnel for all aircraft that is registered with the U.S., enforcing the rules over the FAA on a statutory basis, rather than an inter-department understanding. That appears to be the only solution to this problem of not including flight staff because of bureaucratic rivalry.
Committee on Air Quality in Passenger Cabins of Commercial Aircraft, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, National Research Council (2002) "The Airliner Cabin Environment and the Health of Passengers and Crew" the National Academies Press.
N.A. (2000, Dec) "FAA / OSHA Aviation Safety and Health Team: First Report" Retrieved 8 February, 2008 at http://www2.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/health/ashp/media/faa-osha-report.pdf
Nagda, Niren Laxmichand. (2000) "Air Quality and Comfort in Airliner Cabins" ASTM
N.A. (2002, Jun) "FAA/OSHA: Aviation Safety and Health Team-Action Plan"
Retrieved 8 February, 2008 at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/health/ashp/media/action-plan.rtf