Assisting disabled or reduced mobility passengers

The Civil Aviation (Access to Air Travel for Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility) Regulations 2007 came into force in July 2007 and are enforced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  Airport authorities now have responsibility of ensuring safe access for disabled people. This is from the time they arrive at the airport until the time they leave. In practice, it is likely that most of the services will be contracted out.

A joint letter from HSE and CAA was sent to all aerodromes and airlines in November 2009 explaining  responsibilities for implementing and enforcing the Regulations, and any health and safety issues arising out of the provision of services.

What you need to know

Assisting passengers who are less mobile or require use of a wheelchair can present a risk of sprain, strain or back injury to those people assisting them.

What you need to do

These measures should help reduce the risk of MSD injury.

  • Have in place a policy, procedures and practices to meet the needs of disabled and reduced mobility passengers.
  • Make available information about services or arrangements to these passengers.
  • Ensure information is passed on accurately from booking agents to those persons involved in providing the assistance to these passengers.
  • When designing new airports and terminals or undertaking major refurbishments take into account the needs of disabled and reduced mobility passengers.
  • When designing new and newly refurbished aircraft take into account the needs of disabled and reduced mobility passengers.
  • Provide and maintain suitable equipment for boarding aircraft that minimises risks to staff and passengers.
  • Train all persons providing assistance in the safety measures required and how to safely use any equipment provided.

Specific precautions to reduce the risk of MSD injury

These measures should help you reduce the risk of MSD injury.

  • Plan in advance and assess the unique requirements of each disabled or reduced mobility passenger to ensure that the persons providing the assistance have the correct equipment and training.
  • Where available air bridges are the preferred means for disabled passengers to board or leave the aircraft.
  • If an air bridge is not available alternative methods include scissor lift or ambulift or battery powered wheelchairs/stair climbers/stair lifts or boarding chair.
  • Boarding chairs should be used as a last resort - using a chair on the stairway significantly increases the risk of injury.
  • When on-board aircraft use aisle chairs to move people from the aircraft door to their seats.
  • Transfer passengers to seats with moveable armrests to minimise lifting or to seats with sufficient legroom to ease movement.
  • Use hoists or other suitable lifting or handling devices (such as inflatable cushions, pat slides or other emerging technological solutions) to transfer passengers to their aircraft seat.

Further information

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Updated 2024-06-06