The aviation industry comes with many potential hazards, especially to those who work in it. The presence of hazards (anything that causes harm, damage or injury) is inevitable, and is exceptionally common when working around large machinery and moving parts – the most apparent source of hazards is an aircraft itself!
Aircraft maintenance, in particular, involves regularly working close to large structures, sharps parts and turbine blades. This means that extra precaution needs to be taken when in the workplace, be it a hangar, ramp or workshop. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that aircraft maintenance is a deadly field of work – it’s equally just as thrilling and fun as every other aspect of the aviation industry!
Unfortunately, sometimes, many of us fall into the trap of complacency, or think we are skilled enough to pay less attention to safety. This is when accidents occur. So, here are five of the most common sources of aircraft maintenance workplace mishaps, and how to avoid them:
1. The Irregular Shape of the Aircraft
Hazard: Due to the non-linear shape of aircraft, it is not easy to provide completely safe access to the aircraft. The rounded shape of some parts of the aircraft can create gaps between the working platform (suspended work platforms, scaffoldings, steps, etc.) and the aircraft body.
What you should do: Follow ladder safety guidelines and use harnesses whenever available. Before you begin a task, always evaluate aircraft access areas, especially when working in confined spaces.
2. The Height of the Aircraft
Hazard: Manoeuvring in the hangar or maintenance area can be difficult because the height of the aircraft makes it hard to see people on the ground. As a result, accidents such as getting caught between parts (colliding with a wing), or getting crushed by parts (being run over by a tire) may arise.
What you should do: Maintain communication with the aircraft operator. You should never enter the ramp without prior permission.
3. Propellers, Rotors, and Other Rotating Parts
Source: Dviation Group
Hazard: You probably already know the severity of accidents involving rotating parts. Accidents can range from cuts and scratches to severance of a body part. Not only is the rotating part itself a hazard, any tools or debris surrounding it can also become a dangerous projectile if the engine starts. And if you are not careful, you could even get sucked in by the engine and get shredded to pieces!
What you should do: Remain within any painted hazard lines and stay clear of propeller arcs. Never lean on engine intake areas, and keep your hands and feet away. If you have long hair, always keep it tied back; do not wear loose clothing and jewellery so as to avoid entanglement with moving parts. Never leave tools near the engine, and always pick up debris in the surrounding area.
4. Dangerous Tools
Hazard: Some fabrication and repair tasks require the use of dangerous tools, including grinders, drills and welding torches. When using these, they can be especially dangerous if careful attention is not paid to where your fingers are.
What you should do: Don’t rush through your tasks. Instead, make use of frequent short breaks (you’d be surprise at how much difference a 30-second micro-break can make!) to prevent fatigue, which can lead to injury. Maintain your tools well, and always follow safety procedures.
5. Aircraft Chemicals
Hazard: Lubricants, paints, solvents and fuels are among some of the many concentrated chemicals that contain hazardous material. Some of these can cause skin burns and rashes, and some are highly flammable. Incorrect handling of chemicals can cause distress not just to yourself, but also to others around you.
What you should do: Refer to material safety data sheets to know how to handle chemicals properly. Appropriate storage and disposal methods should be strictly followed, and use protective gear (such as gloves and safety goggles) where possible. Keep sources of fire away from chemicals – and never, ever, smoke in the vicinity.
All in all, you should always remember to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) wherever and whenever possible, follow safety guidelines and procedures, and most importantly: pay utmost attention to your surroundings.
For more information on aircraft maintenance, job openings and training opportunities, visit www.dviation.com!