" DISCLAIMER: The ILO does not take responsibility for content presented on this web portal that is presented in any language other than English, which is the language used for the initial production and peer-review of original content. Certain statistics have not been updated since the production of the 4th edition of the Encyclopaedia (1998)."

Thursday, 31 March 2011 16:51

Challenges to Workers' Health and Safety in the Transportation and Warehousing Industry

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

The transportation and warehousing industry is fraught with challenges to worker health and safety. Those involved in loading and unloading of cargo and in storing, stacking and retrieving materials are prone to musculoskeletal injuries, slips and falls due to uncertain, irregular or slippery work surfaces and being struck by falling objects. See figure 1. Those operating and maintaining vehicles and other machinery are not only vulnerable to such injuries but also to the toxic effects of fuels, lubricants and exhaust fumes. If ergonomic principles are not heeded in the design of seats, pedals and instrument panels, drivers of trains, planes and motor vehicles (those used in warehousing as well on roads) will not only be subject to musculoskeletal disorders and undue fatigue, but will also be prone to operating mishaps that can lead to accidents.

Figure 1. Lifting parcels above shoulder height is an ergonomic hazard.

TRA110F1

Teamster Union

All workers—and the general public as well—may be exposed to toxic substances in the event of leaks, spills and fires. Since much of the work is done out-of-doors, transportation and warehousing workers are also subject to extremes of weather such as heat, cold, rain, snow and ice, which can not only make the work more arduous but also more dangerous. Aviation crews must adjust to changes in barometric pressure. Noise is a perennial problem for those operating or working near noisy vehicles and machinery.

Stress

Perhaps the most pervasive hazard in this industry is work stress. It has many sources:

Adjusting to work hours. Many workers in this industry are burdened by the necessity of adjusting to changing shifts, while flight crews who travel long east-west or west-east distances must adjust to changes in circadian body rhythms; both of these factors may cause drowsiness and fatigue. The danger of functional impairment due to fatigue has led to laws and regulations stipulating the number of hours or shifts that may be worked without a rest period. These are generally applicable to aviation flight crews, railroad train crews and, in most countries, drivers of road buses and trucks. Many of the last group are independent contractors or work for small enterprises and are frequently forced by economic pressures to flout these regulations. There are always emergencies dictated by problems with traffic, weather or accidents which require exceeding the work hours limits. Led by the airlines, large transportation companies are now using computers to track employees’ work schedules to verify their compliance with the regulations and to minimize the amount of down time for both workers and equipment.

Timetables. Most passenger and a good part of freight transport is guided by timetables stipulating departure and arrival times. The necessity of keeping to schedules which often allow too little leeway is often a very potent stressor for the drivers and their crews.

Dealing with the public. Meeting the sometimes unreasonable and often forcefully expressed demands of the public can be a significant source of stress for those dealing with passengers at terminals and ticket offices and en route. Drivers of road transport must contend with other vehicles, traffic regulations and diligent highway traffic officers.

Accidents. Accidents, whether due to equipment failure, human error or environmental conditions, place the transportation industry at or near the top of listings of occupational fatalities in most countries. Even when a particular worker’s injuries may not be serious, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can lead to profound and prolonged disability, and in some instances it can prompt changing to another job.

Isolation. Many employees in the transportation industry work alone with little or no human contact (e.g., truck drivers, workers in control rooms and in railroad switch and signal towers). If problems arise, there may be difficulty and delays in getting help. And, if they are not kept busy, boredom may lead to a drop in attentiveness that can presage accidents. Working alone, especially for those driving taxis, limousines and delivery trucks, is an important risk factor for felonious assaults and other forms of violence.

Being away from home. Transportation workers are frequently required to be away from home for periods of days or weeks (in the maritime industry, for months). In addition to the stress of living out of a suitcase, strange food and strange sleeping accommodations, there is the reciprocal stress of separation from family and friends.

Health problems

Most industrialized countries require transportation workers, especially drivers and operating crew members, to take periodic medical examinations to verify that their physical and mental capacities meet the requirements established by regulations. Visual and hearing acuity, colour vision, muscular strength and flexibility and freedom from causes of syncope are some of the factors tested for. Accommodations, however, make it possible for many individuals with chronic disorders or disabilities to work without danger to themselves or others. (In the United States, for example, employers are mandated by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act to provide such accommodations.)

Drugs and alcohol

Prescription and over-the-counter medications taken for a variety of disorders (e.g., hypertension, anxiety and other hyperkinetic conditions, allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, headaches and the common cold) may cause drowsiness and affect alertness, reaction time and coordination, especially when alcoholic beverages are also consumed. Abuse of alcohol and/or illegal drugs is found frequently enough among transportation workers to have led to voluntary or legislatively mandated drug testing programmes.

Summary

The health and safety of workers in the transportation and warehousing industry are critical considerations, not only for the workers themselves but also for the public being transported or involved as bystanders. Safeguarding health and safety, therefore, is the joint responsibility of the employers, the employees and their unions and governments on all levels.

 

Back

Read 4891 times Last modified on Tuesday, 06 September 2011 14:23

Contents

Preface
Part I. The Body
Part II. Health Care
Part III. Management & Policy
Part IV. Tools and Approaches
Part V. Psychosocial and Organizational Factors
Part VI. General Hazards
Part VII. The Environment
Part VIII. Accidents and Safety Management
Part IX. Chemicals
Part X. Industries Based on Biological Resources
Part XI. Industries Based on Natural Resources
Part XII. Chemical Industries
Part XIII. Manufacturing Industries
Part XIV. Textile and Apparel Industries
Part XV. Transport Industries
Part XVI. Construction
Part XVII. Services and Trade
Education and Training Services
Emergency and Security Services
Entertainment and the Arts
Health Care Facilities and Services
Hotels and Restaurants
Office and Retail Trades
Personal and Community Services
Public and Government Services
Transport Industry and Warehousing
Air Transport
Road Transport
Rail Transport
Water Transport
Storage
Resources
Part XVIII. Guides

Transport Industry and Warehousing Additional Resources

Click the Button below to view additional resources for this topic.

button

Transport Industry and Warehousing References

American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 1967. Illumination. ANSI A11.1-1967. New York: ANSI.

Anton, DJ. 1988. Crash dynamics and restraint systems. In Aviation Medicine, 2nd edition, edited by J Ernsting and PF King. London: Butterworth.

Beiler, H and U Tränkle. 1993. Fahrerarbeit als Lebensarbeitsperpektive. In Europäische Forschungsansätze zur Gestaltung der Fahrtätigkeit im ÖPNV (S. 94-98) Bundesanstat für Arbeitsschutz. Bremerhaven: Wirtschaftsverlag NW.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 1996. Safety and Health Statistics. Washington, DC: BLS.

Canadian Urban Transit Association. 1992. Ergonomic Study of the Driver’s Workstation in Urban Buses. Toronto: Canadian Urban Transit Association.

Decker, JA. 1994. Health Hazard Evaluation: Southwest Airlines, Houston Hobby Airport, Houston, Texas. HETA-93-0816-2371. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

DeHart RL. 1992. Aerospace medicine. In Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 13th edition, edited by ML Last and RB Wallace. Norwalk, CT: Appleton and Lange.

DeHart, RL and KN Beers. 1985. Aircraft accidents, survival, and rescue. In Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine, edited by RL DeHart. Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger.

Eisenhardt, D and E Olmsted. 1996. Investigation of Jet Exhaust Infiltration into a Building Located on John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport Taxiway. New York: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Division of Federal Occupational Health, New York Field Office.

Firth, R. 1995. Steps to successfully installing a warehouse management system. Industrial Engineering 27(2):34–36.

Friedberg, W, L Snyder, DN Faulkner, EB Darden, Jr., and K O’Brien. 1992. Radiation Exposure of Air Carrier Crewmembers II. DOT/FAA/AM-92-2.19. Oklahoma City, OK: Civil Aeromedical Institute; Washington, DC: Federal Aviation Administration.

Gentry, JJ, J Semeijn, and DB Vellenga. 1995. The future of road haulage in the new European Union—1995 and beyond. Logistics and Transportation Review 31(2):149.

Giesser-Weigt, M and G Schmidt. 1989. Verbesserung des Arbeitssituation von Fahrern im öffentlichen Personennahverkehr. Bremerhaven: Wirtschaftsverlag NW.

Glaister, DH. 1988a. The effects of long duration acceleration. In Aviation Medicine, 2nd edition, edited by J Ernsting and PF King. London: Butterworth.

—. 1988b. Protection against long duration acceleration. In Aviation Medicine, 2nd edition, edited by J Ernsting and PF King. London: Butterworth.

Haas, J, H Petry and W Schühlein. 1989. Untersuchung zurVerringerung berufsbedingter Gesundheitsrisien im Fahrdienst des öffentlichen Personennahverkehr. Bremerhaven; Wirtschaftsverlag NW.

International Chamber of Shipping. 1978. International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals. London: Witherby.

International Labour Organization (ILO). 1992. Recent Developments in Inland Transportation. Report I, Sectoral Activities Programme, Twelfth Session. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1996. Accident Prevention on Board Ship at Sea and in Port. An ILO Code of Practice. 2nd edition. Geneva: ILO.

Joyner, KH and MJ Bangay. 1986. Exposure survey of civilian airport radar workers in Australia. Journal of Microwave Power and Electromagnetic Energy 21(4):209–219.

Landsbergis, PA, D Stein, D Iacopelli and J Fruscella. 1994. Work environment survey of air traffic controllers and development of an occupational safety and health training program. Presented at the American Public Health Association, 1 November, Washington, DC.

Leverett, SD and JE Whinnery. 1985. Biodynamics: Sustained acceleration. In Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine, edited by RL DeHart. Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger.

Magnier, M. 1996. Experts: Japan has the structure but not the will for intermodalism. Journal of Commerce and Commercial 407:15.

Martin, RL. 1987. AS/RS: From the warehouse to the factory floor. Manufacturing Engineering 99:49–56.

Meifort, J, H Reiners, and J Schuh. 1983. Arbeitshedingungen von Linienbus- und Strassenbahnfahrern des Dortmunder Staatwerke Aktiengesellschaft. Bremen- haven: Wirtschaftsverlag.

Miyamoto, Y. 1986. Eye and respiratory irritants in jet engine exhaust. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine 57(11):1104–1108.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 1976. Fire Protection Handbook, 14th edition. Quincy, MA: NFPA.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 1976. Documented Personnel Exposures from Airport Baggage Inspection Systems. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 77-105. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

—. 1993a. Health Hazard Evaluation: Big Bear Grocery Warehouse. HETA 91-405-2340. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

—. 1993b. Alert: Preventing Homicide in the Workplace. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 93-108. Cincinatti, OH: NIOSH.

—. 1995. Health Hazard Evaluation: Kroger Grocery Warehouse. HETA 93-0920-2548. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

National Safety Council. 1988. Aviation Ground Operation Safety Handbook, 4th edition. Chicago, IL: National Safety Council.

Nicogossian, AE, CL Huntoon and SL Pool (eds.). 1994. Space Physiology and Medicine, 3rd edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger.

Peters, Gustavsson, Morén, Nilsson and Wenäll. 1992. Forarplats I Buss, Etapp 3; Kravspecifikation. Linköping, Sweden: Väg och Trafikinstitutet.

Poitrast, BJ and deTreville. 1994. Occupational medical considerations in the aviation industry. In Occupational Medicine, 3rd edition, edited by C Zenz, OB Dickerson, and EP Hovarth. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Register, O. 1994. Make Auto-ID work in your world. Transportation and Distribution 35(10):102–112.

Reimann, J. 1981. Beanspruchung von Linienbusfahrern. Untersuchungen zur Beanspruchung von Linienbusfahrern im innerstädtischen Verkehr. Bremerhaven: Wirtschafts-verlag NW.

Rogers, JW. 1980. Results of FAA Cabin Ozone Monitoring Program in Commercial Aircraft in 1978 and 1979. FAA-EE-80-10. Washington, DC: Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Environment and Energy.

Rose, RM, CD Jenkins, and MW Hurst. 1978. Air Traffic Controller Health Change Study. Boston, MA: Boston University School of Medicine.

Sampson, RJ, MT Farris, and DL Shrock. 1990. Domestic Transportation: Practice, Theory, and Policy, 6th edition. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Streekvervoer Nederland. 1991. Chaufferscabine [Driver’s cabin]. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Streekvervoer Nederland.

US Senate. 1970. Air Traffic Controllers (Corson Report). Senate Report 91-1012. 91st Congress, 2nd Session, 9 July. Washington, DC: GPO.

US Department of Transportation (DOT). 1995. Senate Report 103–310, June 1995. Washington, DC: GPO.

Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen. 1996. Fahrerarbeitsplatz im Linienbus [Driver’s workstation in buses]. VDV Schrift 234 (Entwurf). Cologne, Germany: Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen.

Violland, M. 1996. Whither railways? OECD Observer No. 198, 33.

Wallentowitz H, M Marx, F Luczak, J Scherff. 1996. Forschungsprojekt. Fahrerarbeitsplatz im Linienbus— Abschlußbericht [Research project. Driver’s workstation in buses—Final report]. Aachen, Germany: RWTH.

Wu, YX, XL Liu, BG Wang, and XY Wang. 1989. Aircraft noise-induced temporary threshold shift. Aviation Space and Medicine 60(3):268–270.