Protecting Your Workforce: Mitigating Unseen Health Risks In The Aviation Industry

As a manager in the aviation industry, it’s essential to be aware of the unseen health risks your employees face daily. While you may train your staff to handle the physical demands of their roles, other factors could negatively impact their health.

For example, exposure to high-altitude radiation, air pollution, and jet lag can all have long-term effects on their body. Additionally, the stress of irregular schedules and time away from home can affect mental health. By addressing these issues, you can help ensure the well-being of your employees and create a safer, healthier workplace.

Importance of Improving the Working Conditions of Your Airline Workers

In a recent survey of over 3,700 airline workers worldwide, 90% reported declining working conditions. This could be due to long work hours, high levels of stress, and exposure to various hazards in the workplace. If you don’t manage these risks, your employees may suffer from fatigue, mental health issues, and physical injuries. There will be a negative impact on their job performance and safety.

Understanding the risk factors and taking proactive measures to mitigate them can create a healthier and safer working environment. This will benefit not just your employees but also your business. It will experience a low employee turnover rate, increase in employee productivity, etc.

Chemical Exposure

The aviation industry exposes workers to various chemicals. During routine maintenance, fueling, cleaning, and even in-flight operations, chemical exposure can occur. These exposures can cause serious health problems like respiratory issues, skin irritation, and cancer.

One specific chemical exposure issue that has gained attention in recent years is the use of aqueous film-forming firefighting foam (AFFF). This foam contains PFAS, a group of chemicals linked to various health problems, including cancer. As a result, many workers exposed to firefighting foam have filed a firefighting foam lawsuit to seek compensation for their health issues.

It’s important to note that firefighting foam is just one example of the many chemical exposures that can occur in the aviation industry. Other examples include exposure to jet fuel, cleaning agents, and hydraulic fluids.

Protecting your workforce from chemical exposure requires a comprehensive approach. This includes providing proper training on handling and using chemicals, as well as providing protective equipment and ensuring adequate ventilation. Regular monitoring and testing for chemical exposure are also essential to detect potential health risks early on.

Radiation Exposure

Radiation exposure is a risk that often goes unnoticed in the aviation industry. It’s from the atmosphere and altitude. Galactic cosmic radiations and solar particle events can cause this exposure.

Galactic cosmic radiations are usually stable. But the flow of solar energetic particles increases significantly during a solar particle event. This can result in extremely high dosage rates reaching over two mSv/h5. These high-dose rate episodes are often short-lived. But they can be highly hazardous to the health of your workforce.

According to ICRP guidelines, exposure to an embryo/fetus should be limited to less than one mSv2. It’s essential to take appropriate precautions during big SPEs, such as lowering the aircraft’s altitude. This will help mitigate the risk of radiation exposure to your workforce and keep them safe.

Air Pollution

Employees working on the tarmac or in the hangar experience high air pollution exposure. Exposure can occur due to airplane pollutants, ground handling equipment, and other factors. Inhaling these dangerous chemicals can lead to respiratory issues, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

The heating of fossil fuels such as gasoline and jet fuel is the principal source of this air pollution. The emissions from these fuels include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, all of which can have serious health effects.

As an airline manager, taking action to protect your employees is vital. One practical way to reduce air pollution is using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) generated through a “Power to Fuel” method. This method uses renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power to produce clean SAF that emits significantly less pollution than traditional fossil fuels.

Investing in SAF can help mitigate the unseen health risks of air pollution. Switch to sustainable aviation fuel today and safeguard the future of your business.

Noise Pollution

Engine noise, airport operations, and ground handling are all significant sources of noise pollution. Exposure to high noise levels can make your airforce workers prone to permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, and other health issues.

The hazards of noise pollution are only sometimes immediately noticeable. But they can have long-term consequences. It can impact staff efficiency and performance, resulting in higher absenteeism and turnover.

Noise control strategies are critical for mitigating these concerns. These measures include providing hearing protection equipment, minimizing exposure to noise sources, and implementing noise reduction strategies such as sound insulation and barriers.

Contagious Diseases

One of the most significant health risks aviation industry workers face is the transmission of contagious diseases. This is because workers in this area are in immediate contact with many people. They also regularly travel to other parts of the world.

Several research studies have shown that aircrew members may be more susceptible to respiratory diseases, especially infectious ones. The hazards of these diseases can be significant. They can result in missed work days, decreased productivity, and potentially life-threatening complications.

Therefore, airlines must take steps to mitigate these risks by implementing measures such as increased ventilation, frequent cleaning, and personal protective equipment. Additionally, airlines can train their employees on proper hygiene practices and the importance of seeking medical attention if they experience symptoms of illness.

Jet Lag

Jet lag and disrupted sleep schedules are two significant hazards that can significantly negatively impact your employees’ health, productivity, and safety. Jet lag occurs when an individual’s internal clock is out of sync with the local time due to traveling across time zones. This can lead to fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues, headaches, and impaired cognitive function.

Disrupted sleep schedules, such as those experienced by pilots and flight attendants who work irregular shifts, can lead to chronic sleep deprivation. This increases the risk of accidents, mistakes, and health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

A study found that sleep-deprived pilots are likely to make errors as they are less alert and experience “severe performance deficiencies” compared to well-rested ones. Additionally, the aviation workforce suffers from chronic insomnia the most.

To protect your workforce from these health risks, it’s crucial to implement strategies. Strategies include adjusting schedules to minimize time zone changes, providing adequate rest periods between shifts, and educating employees on healthy sleep habits. By taking these steps, you can improve your team’s health, safety, and productivity while enhancing your airline’s overall success.


Air conditioning and pressurization systems are essential components of any aircraft. But they pose a significant risk to your workforce’s health. These systems can lead to dehydration, which can cause fatigue, headaches, and even fainting. This can be a severe risk for pilots and crew members who must always be alert and focused.

Dehydration happens when the body sheds more water than it absorbs. Air conditioning and pressurization systems can cause this by removing moisture from the air. The dry air can also lead to dry skin and respiratory problems.

To prevent these health hazards, you must ensure that your workforce stays hydrated by providing plenty of water and encouraging them to drink it regularly. Consider using humidity control systems to maintain a comfortable air moisture level.

Also, dehydration reduces cognitive performance. This means a dehydrated pilot may be unable to make critical decisions as quickly or accurately as they should. This is a significant risk to the safety of your passengers and crew.

In conclusion, mitigating unseen health risks in the aviation industry is essential to protect your workforce and ensure the success of your business. Addressing these risks can reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and enhance employee satisfaction.

Additionally, by prioritizing the health and safety of your employees, you can build a positive reputation as a responsible and caring employer. This can help attract and retain qualified people.

Take the necessary steps to identify and manage these risks and create a healthier and more productive work environment for your employees. Your efforts will not only benefit your workforce but also contribute to the long-term success of your airline.