Alaska Airlines Cited by CalOSHA for Withholding Health Information

Aug. 9, 2002
Alaska Airlines has been cited for its failure to respond to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's (Cal-OSHA) request for employee exposure records. Flight attendants claim the records could show they and passengers on certain Alaska planes were exposed to toxins in the airplane cabin.

The citation means that the airline must pay a penalty for its failure to provide the employee exposure records and is still subject to the state's order to turn them over.

Alaska Airlines spokesperson Lou Cancelmi claims the airline turned over what he calls "voluminous" amounts of documentation "and were frankly rather surprised by the citation, since we were still in the process of providing them with documentation when we received the citation."

A statment from the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, (AFA), the union representing Alaska Airlines flight attendants, says some members based in California have experienced "severe and debilitating illnesses from toxins in the air of certain Alaska aircraft." The flight attendants claim these illnesses stem from contaminants found in hydraulic fluid and aircraft lubricants leaking into the ventilation system of some Alaska Airlines aircraft, a claim Cancelmi says "has no basis."

Cancelmi says that over a period of years, the airline "has participated in tests of our own as well as [tests conducted by] the federal government (NIOSH), suppliers, aircraft manufacturers - all in an attempt to protect our employees and passengers."

The union says it "will continue to seek enforcement of this citation," adding, "because of the preemption claimed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the aircraft cabin environment remains one of the last unregulated workplaces in the United States."

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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