Personal Protection

Aircraft repair and maintenance poses many challenges, including exposure to numerous hazards.

Many of us get to enjoy life in the outdoors while plying our trade and those working during daylight hours get to benefit from the psychological as well as physical benefits of sunshine. There are drawbacks. Current statistics show that about 20 percent of the population in the United States will have to deal with some form of skin cancer and 98 percent will be successfully treated.

An alarming fact is many people do not know how to detect skin cancer. Proper examination for signs on the surface of the skin is an effective precaution when conducted by a dermatologist. Changes in skin texture or variance in freckles or moles are worth investigation. The best defense here is prevention of exposure which can be accomplished by clothing accompanied by sun screens.

Heat and chemical exposure

Skin is also sensitive to thermal conditions and chemical exposure. The ability to absorb various substances will further the risk with potential life-threatening results. Proper precaution prior to exposure is the best defense plus awareness of neutralizing the hazard and first aid to counter the effects and to remedy discomfort.

In some cases chemical exposure can be difficult to predict such as with laundering of shop towels which can yield detectable amounts of heavy metals while dry cleaning substances are known to cause allergic reactions in some people. In addition perspiration on the skin can contribute to the possibility of electrical shock under certain circumstances.

Proper protection

Determining how to protect employees from on the job hazards is not always as easy as simply reading Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. In fact in our world it is common to have to be protected from several hazards at any given time and in some cases if the proper protection is not employed serious consequences may result. Numerous reports of hearing protection being sucked into turbine engines have been generated over the years.

Assessing the risks encountered in the workplace should be approached as a team effort and OSHA regulations make a good starting point. Site specific conditions as identified by employees need to be considered when deciding on types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to employ. All PPE must be not only comfortable but compatible with other equipment donned under various conditions.

Employing safety equipment is also an important part of risk management in our world. Recently Master Lock has launched a line of devices referred to as “Aviation Safety Lockout” which is designed specifically for lock out tag out on aircraft.

Based on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control, the most common cause of requests for emergency care were related to: falls, being struck either by objects or vehicles, cutting tools, overexertion, and strenuous activity. Interestingly enough these conditions we experience in the workplace often occur as well in the home which most likely means: a keen ability to mitigate risk will have an all around positive impact (or lack thereof).

Avionics repair and maintenance does pose many challenges and includes exposure to numerous hazards. Keep in mind, we are all responsible for our own well-being and situational awareness is an important element in personal protection.

One who works with his hands is a laborer; one who works with his hands and his mind is a craftsman; but one who works with his hands, his mind, and his heart is a true asset. AMT


Currently when not writing for AMT, Jim Sparks is the manager of aviation maintenance for a private company with a fleet including light single engine aircraft, helicopters, and several types of business jets. You can reach him at

Jim Sparks has been in aviation for 30 years and is a licensed A&P. His career began in general aviation as a mechanic, electrician, and avionics technician.

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