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Congressman Takes Action to Help Airline Crew Safety and Health

Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is calling on the Department of Transportation to investigate the FAA's failure to enact safety rules to protect flight attendants.

Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a member of the House Transportation Committee, asked the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Inspector General to investigate the FAA's failure to enact safety rules to protect flight attendants on the job.

In a letter sent Mar. 1 to DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead, DeFazio cited the fact that although flight attendants are responsible for the safety of millions of passengers, their own safety and health is threatened every day they are on the job.

"In 1975, the FAA claimed jurisdiction over the safety and health of crew members, however, since that time it has made little apparent effort to institute occupational safety and health standards for flight attendant," wrote DeFazio.

DeFazio called on Mead to investigate the problem, evaluate the FAA's handling of this issue to date and evaluate its capability to provide regulatory and enforcement oversight of OSHA standards in passenger cabins.

"In addition, I ask that you specifically identify the senior person in the FAA executive system responsible for these issues," DeFazio said in his letter.

DeFazio's request was applauded by OSHA NOW!, the newly-formed Coalition for Flight Attendant Safety that recently called on the FAA to provide flight attendant the same health and safety protections as other workers.

"Flight attendants who report to work fit and healthy go home sick, unable to work or carry out their normal activities. That's not right," said Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, and a leader of the Coalition for Flight Attendant Safety. "We want to know why the FAA hasn't lived up to its responsibility to ensure flight attendants have a safe place to work."

Bloodborne pathogens, repetitive motion injuries, equipment injuries, unhealthy cabin air and carry-on bags are some of the hazards flight attendants are said to face.

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