Summer Heat Precautions On The Ramp

July 3, 2012
Readily available watering stations and frequent breaks are vital to summer operations.

The first sweltering days of summer are here in the Northeast, and I can’t help but think what it’s like for workers on the ramp. Extreme heat and humidity causes fatigue and delays reaction time.

Many of us on the safety side of aviation have long considered fatigue to be a major factor in incidents and accidents. It could well be a significant factor or at least a contributing factor in the high incidence of ground damage at airports around the country.

Extreme changes in temperature appear to affect workers more than consistently high temperatures, probably because people adapt in countries like India – where temperatures this past May during my travels there were more than 110 degrees for days at a time.

So it’s important for workers, supervisors and managers to be aware of the impact of hot, humid days on themselves and their workers. The importance of proper hydration is often spoken and written about – and just as often ignored. Managers and supervisors have to ensure that watering stations are readily available and that workers are frequently reminded of the importance of drinking plenty of water. Soda and coffee are not adequate substitutes.

Frequent breaks are also important on extremely hot and humid days. It’s better to have workers on a few more breaks throughout the day than to deal with the cost of damage and injuries caused by heat-induced fatigue.

About the Author

John Goglia

John Goglia has 40+ years experience in the aviation industry. He was the first NTSB member to hold an FAA aircraft mechanic's certificate. He can be reached at [email protected].

John Goglia is an independent aviation safety consultant and Adjunct Professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology and regular monthly columnist for four aviation trade publications. He was an airline mechanic for more than 30 years. He has co-authored two text books (Safety Management Systems in Aviation, Ashgate Publishing 2009 and Implementation of Safety Management Systems in Aviation, Ashgate Publishing 2011).