Avionics News May 2017 - 33
"The safety of the people shall be the highest law."
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher
n the surface, being an avionics technician seems
like a safe line of work. But when you truly get into
it, there are a lot of opportunities for injury awaiting
the unwary. You likely know more than a couple of
avionics technicians whose hands look like they train tigers
on the weekend - blindly reaching behind an instrument panel
often earns them yet another battle scar.
Admit it, we're not getting any younger. The unnatural
bending and twisting required to fit in the cramped confines of
a cockpit or avionics bay make neck and back aches common
problems. Chiropractic care would be a welcome addition to
any morning shop meeting.
Fortunately, today there are catalogs, training programs,
company policies and regulations from the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration to help avoid common hangar injuries. Yet the injuries continue to happen.
While cuts, scrapes and strains are the most common onthe-job injury, there is another category of accident that is,
fortunately, less frequent, but a lot more dangerous.
I am, of course, talking about the dreaded slip and fall ...
and not the kind the ambulance-chasing lawyers keep harping
about on late night TV. No, these are real accidents that cause
serious injuries and deaths.
It's not the fall ... it's the sudden stop
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, four
workers out of 100,000 will die due to a slip and fall accident
each year, and that's not counting all the broken bones, torn
ligaments and head injuries suffered by everyone else who
falls at work.
While there are hard numbers related to hangar or avionics technician injury/accidents, it's common knowledge
that too many people suffer these types of accidents in and
Accidents like this aren't only painful to the employee,
but they can be financially devastating to the unprepared
avionics shop. Besides the obvious increases in medical
insurance, you're also looking at possible OSHA fines and
lost billable revenue that the technician would have contributed to the bottom line.
But wait, we only work on smaller aircraft, so our technicians never get too high off the ground. Well, that reasoning
sounds good, but statistics aren't on your side.
According to data from a fall-prevention equipment manufacturer, nearly 30 percent of hangar accidents are slips
and lost balance falls. It's also surprising to know that the
average height for a fatal fall injury is from 6 to 10 feet.
You would think falling off a Gulfstream's wing
wouldn't be fatal until you add a bit of Newtonian physics
called vertical acceleration. As Sir Isaac explained it, during
a free fall, gravity accelerates an object at 9.8 meters (32.15
feet) per second squared.
If you weigh 200 pounds and fall from 8 feet in the air,
you will be traveling at about 15 mph when you hit the
But if there's such a high risk of serious injury, why
are there so many fall accidents from these relatively low
According to Adam Ballester, national sales manager for
Rigid Lifelines, the reason may be that people just don't consider these types of elevations to be high enough to warrant
using any kind of fall-prevention/fall-restraint systems - even
though OSHA regulations clearly require that workers must
wear fall-protection equipment any time their feet are elevated
above 4 feet off the ground.
"I think the reason for this trend is typically when workers
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