RR675: Musculoskeletal ill-health risks for airport baggage handlers

In Great Britain the majority of baggage handling is contracted out from the airline to ground handlers and is often viewed as a 'stand alone' part of the aircraft turnround process. Little consideration has been given to the design and working of the interface between the aircraft (airline carrier), airport (operator), handling equipment (supplier/ manufacturer) and those persons undertaking the baggage handling work (ground handlers). Unless these factors are dealt with at an early stage, there is often little or no opportunity for the ground handler to address and reduce the risks. Fully effective risk reduction during the baggage handling activity will only be achieved if all the parties involved actively work together.

This report describes the work undertaken to gather further information on the musculoskeletal ill-health risks associated with baggage handling operations and to appraise the efficacy of new Extending Belt Loader (EBL) technology. The GB aviation sector health and safety steering group (Revitalising Health and Safety in Air Transport - RHSAT), which includes the HSE, identified the requirement for a working partnership. Staff from the HSE, HSL, East Midlands Airport (EMA), Menzies Aviation, Servisair, EasyJet, BMI Baby and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) formed a collaborative working group to take this work forward. The evidence presented in this report, and other studies including previous work by the HSE (Tapley & Riley, 2005 and Riley, 2008) provide a strong case for this task to be re-designed or mechanised to reduce the risk of injury.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

Assistance in the use of Adobe Acrobat PDF files is available on our FAQs page.

Updated 2021-04-23