The concept of occupational health and safety in the workplace is a mandatory undertaking for all employers. The aviation industry is not an exception. The effective operation of organizations in the aviation sector calls for the safety of employees. It also requires the use of airworthy equipment. The management should emphasize safety training, regulations, and work procedures. The aim is to ensure continued safety in the industry (International Air Travel Association [IATA], 2016). The reliability of human actors in the workplace is a major determinant of occupational safety. The ability of employees to execute their roles without errors relates directly to workplace safety.
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In this paper, the author focuses on workplace safety in the aviation industry. The paper addresses the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Regulations of 2009 on Infrastructural Modification and its impacts on safe runways and noise-proof work stations for employees. To this end, the author will analyze current trends in workplace safety in the aviation sector and the standards put in place by ICAO.
Current Trends in Workplace Safety Management Systems in the Aviation Sector
Like other industries, the aviation sector is affected by several occupational hazards. However, some of the safety concerns are unique to this industry. They include, among others, environmental problems. The problems involve inadequate lightning under aircraft fuselage and wings. Others include noise pollution and ambient temperatures (Ferguson & Nelson, 2013). Work support systems, such as proper schedules, are recommended by safety experts.
The safety of employees in the aviation sector is determined by a combination of complete systematic operations and responsible human resource behavior. Safety management is largely the responsibility of the management team in an organization. The existence of safety management systems (SMS) in organizations is meant to safeguard the welfare of employees. The major focus of these systems is risk identification. It involves the assessment of threats and the identification of hazards (Burnette, 2011). The data collected from time to time is traditionally used to carry out these assessments.
Studies conducted in the aviation sector show glaring gaps in the existing data. The gaps are significant considering that the safety of workers requires a holistic approach to the operations of the enterprise (Burnette, 2011). It should bring onboard flight operators, as well as maintenance and overhaul crew. Cabin safety, environmental management, and quality systems are also required. The other thing is strict adherence to regulations from all the regulatory bodies. Such entities include the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Travel Association (IATA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Besides, a change in the attitudes and perceptions of employees and managers is required to improve safety in the workplace. Safety culture should also be encouraged (IATA, 2016).
Employees in the aviation sector deal with various safety issues in their workplaces. The issues vary from traditional safety concerns to contemporary airline problems (IATA, 2016). Some of the problems associated with airline safety include inadequate lightning. The problem emanates from the large size of most aircrafts’ fuselage and wings. Lightning interferes with vision and can cause serious retinal problems. Noise is another environmental factor impacting on the safety of employees in the aviation industry (Kim & Song, 2016). The noise originates from riveting and other sounds produced by the aircraft. It can lead to disturbances among the workers. There are other problems associated with noise. They include hearing impairment, disturbance at the workplace, and lack of concentration (Burnette, 2011).
The infrastructural designs of aircraft and runways are evolving daily. Environmental concerns, weather problems, and overall safety of runway operators call for the modification of the existing structures. To enhance the safety of the workers and to prevent the occurrence of accidents, these modifications are necessary (IATA, 2016).
International Civil Aviation Organization’s Infrastructural Modification Regulations: Requirements and Standards
The International Civil Aviation Organization is one of the agencies charged with the responsibility of regulating the aviation industry. The major function of this organization is the global standardization of safety for the clients and workers. According to Kim and Song (2016), ICAO also deals with the safety of the aircraft by regulating the environment within which they are operating. To achieve these objectives, the organization proposes and recommends regulations that are aimed at protecting the relevant stakeholders and the entire aviation space (International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO], 2014). The 2009 Regulations on Infrastructural Modification is one of the requirements proposed by this agency (ICAO, 2014). Some of the requirements in this regulation are specific to the workforce. They are meant to uphold the safety of the employees both on the runway and in the aircraft. Some of the conditions include safe runways for the operators, noise-free environment, and secure cabins for the crew. The objective of these standards is to promote the safety of the pilots and other employees working in the industry.
Safe Runways: Incursions, Excursions, and Confusions
The safety certification of international airports is carried out by ICAO. The airports are required to adhere to the standards and requirements recommended by the organization. Universal Safety Certification of Airports was first introduced in 2001 by ICAO (ICAO, 2014). It was meant to be implemented in two phases. The complete transformation of runways was expected to be done by 2005 (ICAO, 2014). One of the modification requirements on the document highlighted the structural design of runways. Statistics show that between 2011 and 2015, 3% of fatalities in the aviation sector were caused by runway excursions (Kim & Song, 2016). Besides, a third of all accidents in the industry takes place on the airstrip. Furthermore, approximately 25% of total hull losses between 2011 and 2015 occurred on runways. The figure is an equivalent of 15 accidents and zero deaths as of 2015. There were also 90 accidents and 14 deaths within the same period (IATA, 2016).
The figures above indicate that the safety of employees is paramount. The width of airstrips and runway shoulders should be modified to adhere to the required safety standards. Reports by ICAO indicate that some of the factors affecting airstrips relate to the operational requirements of the aircraft (ICAO, 2014). The requirements include crosswind limitations, landing gear tracks, and overhanging engines. Others involve the intake of loose materials and debris by jet engines (IATA, 2016). With regards to safe airstrips, ICAO recommends a runway width of 45 meters. The requirement is for code E operations. The figure increases to 60 meters for code F operations. The standards apply for fields that are over 1,800 meters (ICAO, 2014).
The safety measures proposed by ICAO call for accurately installed aircraft guidance systems. A reliable lighting system is also required. The measurement of runway shoulders should also adhere to the requirements of their particular width classification. Standard measurements are meant to ensure that aircraft do not run off the runway. They are also meant to avoid disturbance of loose soil materials. Finally, the measurements are meant to enhance safe access to the plane (Zanko & Dawson, 2012).
The recommended shoulder length should be between 60-75 meters (ICAO, 2014). On its part, the width of taxiways for code E should be 23 meters. The figure is 25 meters for code F. Taxiway bridges should be safe for operators on the runway. Their size should not be less than that of the pavement and the width connecting at least two taxiways (ICAO, 2014). Runway end safety should also be observed at the end of the airstrip. The requirement is required to mitigate the impacts of overruns and undershoots. It should extend by at least 240 meters for runways number 3 and number 4.
Runway incursions, excursions, and confusions may lead to serious accidents. The unexpected presence of an aircraft, person, or vehicle on protected airstrip area is a major concern to airline operators and managers. The formation of Runway Safety Imitative (RSI) was meant to address these problems and promote the safety of workers. The mandate of RSI is to ensure that there are enough visible signs. The policy also requires the airport management to install marking lights and train runway users (IATA, 2016).
Modification of Noise-Proof Premises to Shield Airline Workers
Noise in a workplace can be defined as unpleasant and disruptive sounds. Such noise is above the sound-weighted pressure level standards (Kim & Song, 2016). According to Burnette (2011), noise, especially from riveting and aircraft engines, is considered short term. However, it has lasting effects on the workers. As such, it is prudent to ensure that employees are not exposed to too much noise. The noise should not exceed the limits of weighted-sound levels. The use of radio signals is common in the aviation industry. Consequently, radiofrequency spectrum protection is necessary. The amount of vibration and wave interference affects the hearing system. Employees working under these conditions should be protected (IATA, 2016).
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The use of hearing protectors in noisy workplaces, such as in the aviation industry, is common. However, these protectors are inadequate. According to Kim and Song (2016), physical measures should be put in place to reduce exposure to noise. Some of the suggested mechanisms include soundproof rooms and offices, as well as sound-absorbing materials for users. Hearing aids and mechanisms can be used to prevent runway accidents. The mechanisms can also be used to manage occupational hazards. A noisy environment is likely to reduce the effectiveness and performance of workers. In other instances, it may also lead to accidents, injuries, and other noise-work related illnesses (Burnette, 2011).
The Significance of Safety Requirements in the Aviation Industry
The disturbing statistics of fatal accidents in the aviation sector calls for the total overhaul of the Safety Management Systems (SMS) used in the industry. As a result of increasing safety demands, several agencies have been formed to improve the welfare of employees working in the aviation sector. According to Zanko and Dawson (2012), conceptual research development is one of the important aspects of safety management. The research should be supported by empirical evidence indicating how safety systems work. Zanko and Dawson (2012) argue that the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) should be prescriptive. Also, it should be success-oriented and culture-based.
Studies conducted in occupational and industrial psychology show that safety concerns impact on the productivity of employees. Besides, industrial relations and sociology have enhanced the available knowledge and understanding of organizational structures and operations. The findings are related to workplace injuries and occupational illnesses (Zanko & Dawson, 2012). The safety of workers is reflected in their performance. Every organization should provide a framework for employees to report unsafe behavior and successful critical incidences. The move makes it possible to put in place corrective measures (Burnette, 2011).
An analysis of the aviation sector shows a downward trend in the rate of accidents. The drop is reported in overall accidents, fatalities, and hull losses. It can be equated to 1.81 accidents per one million sectors (IATA, 2016). Fatal accidents were reduced by 0.11 accidents per one million sectors in 2015. The rate of hull losses also reduced by 0.48 per one million sectors in the same year (IATA, 2016). The downward trend is attributed to the regulations put in place by different regulating agencies, including ICAO. Such regulations include the 2009 Regulations on Infrastructural Modification. The efforts made by organizations to enforce and implement safety management systems have also led to improved safety for workers. As such, it is significant for firms in the aviation sector to adhere to occupational health and safety regulations. Furthermore, a culture that enhances safety should also be created in the workplace.
Employees are an integral part of an organization. To ensure their safety, a combination of systematic preparation and responsible behavior is necessary. Organizational culture and operations are major determinants of the wellbeing of the workforce. Also, the agencies created to promote workplace safety should be innovative to deal with emerging threats. To this end, it is noted that ICAO’s Regulations of 2009 on Infrastructural Modification have played a major role in promoting the safety of employees in this industry.
Burnette, J. (2011). Chapter 3: Workplace safety. Web.
Ferguson, M., & Nelson, S. (2013). Aviation safety: A balanced industry approach. New York, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.
International Air Travel Association. (2016). IATA releases 2015 safety performance: No fatal jet hull losses. Web.
International Civil Aviation Organization. (2014). Aerodromes: Aerodrome design and operations. Web.
Kim, C., & Song, B. (2016). An empirical study on safety culture in aviation maintenance organization. International Journal of Service, Science, and Technology, 9(6), 333-344.
Zanko, M., & Dawson, P. (2012). Occupational health and safety management in organizations: A review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 14(3), 328-344.