Ramp Safety

The GS Reader's Forum goes to the front lines of the ground support industry to get feedback on different topics relevant to ground support equipment and ground handling.

So is safety really a major issue for our Industry? Is there a disaster looming out there? I think Ramp Safety has continued to improve over the years and as long as airports, airlines, ground handlers and equipment manufacturers continue to share information and best safety practices, ramp safety will keep improving. If the industry tries to cut corners with training or preventative maintenance of ground equipment, there could be a disaster looming.

Safety is everyone's responsibility from the airports to the airlines to the ground handlers, down to each individual working on the AOA. At Southwest we have a very aggressive safety program which virtually includes frontline employees from each operational department and location. There is no such thing as too much communication when it comes to safety. After all, we are trying our best to protect our most prized possessions, our employees, our assets and our customers. To quote Barry Brown, our director, corporate safety and environment, 'The more we talk about safety, the less we will talk about accidents and injuries.' This quote holds true to our entire Industry.

Kevin Paddick
Facility Manager, British Airways

As someone who has to deal with health and safety matters on a daily basis, I am very surprised that nobody has taken the time to benchmark this particular area to determine if standards are improving or if due to more frequent aircraft movements people working in and around the ramp are being put under more stress and subsequently more risk. I always thought that it was imperative that all areas or processes be ''Risk Assessed.' If this is the case especially around the ramp operation then why couldn't these be used as pre-determined benchmarks as for the industry as a whole to work too?

The airport authorities themselves should assist in this also. By this I mean that whilst they are trying to increase airline traffic at both international and domestic airports this in turn reduces the amount of space available for the innumerable ground equipment items required to support them on a day-to-day basis. It will only be a matter of time before this problem, if not dealt with by a focused determined group, gets to a stage that it will cost millions to resolve. The information gained from any risk assessments or studies should be shared between all parties worldwide, therefore eliminating the risk not only to the people working within the area, but also going along way to improving the efficiency of the airports.

This is not about standing still and just surmising the area has gotten better, we should be actively promoting health and safety for all who work within the industry.

Brian Wood
VP Operations, Airport Terminal Services Inc.

I can only speak for ATS but all the stats we track related to safety have shown a steady improvement year after year. This trend has been constant for more than seven years. I can't speak to the industry. There may be more incidents now than a few years ago but you have to look at it against frequency and bring it to an apples to apples relationship. On a per flight basis or on an hours worked basis has the ratio improved? The raw count of occurrences may be up but has there been more flights worked or more hours worked? That is the trend with ATS but I have no facts to base an opinion on outside of our company. I know NATA, through the Airline Services Council is working on collecting this data through a third party to establish some industry baselines. It has been difficult getting industry information as everyone hesitates to share their statistics outside of their own company. The third party involvement will sanitize the data so it can be shared for everyone's benefit. You can then get some meaningful measurements of the industry to compare your own stats to. I think that is an exciting step that all companies can benefit from.

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