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When the work of others hurts fellow employees

When conditions in a place of business compromise the safety of patrons, they usually also compromise the safety of employees serving those patrons. Recently, the engineering work completed by workers employed at two American Airlines bases and outside contractors compromised the safety of the airline's passengers and crew. Though workplace injuries can occur at any worksite, injuries occurring thousands of feet in the air can be particularly perilous.

Essentially, seat clamps on many of American Airlines' jets were improperly installed, allegedly by engineers hired by the company and workers employed by a contractor outside the corporation. The improper installation caused seats to become loose on several flights within the past few weeks.

Safety experts consider the seat issue to be serious, given that proper restraints are critical in takeoffs, landings and during travel in any turbulent airspace. Federal investigators are currently evaluating the situation.

The president of the safety organization National Air Disaster Alliance recently commented that passengers and airline employees who would ordinarily remain safe in challenging airspace or during a mild crash could be fatally injured if their seats became dislodged. He questioned, "What if it's a little kid or an old person in the row behind them? That seat becomes a projectile with people on it."

When it comes to matters of airline safety, passengers usually receive the most consideration from regulators and the media. However, airline employees subject to potential injury are equally deserving of safe conditions and restitution in the event that a fellow employee's work causes them harm.

Source: Star Tribune, "American Airlines says 'improper' work caused seats to come loose; will inspect more planes," David Koenig, Oct. 2, 2012

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