Airport workers face a substantial risk of being hurt or killed on-the-job. So many things can happen to cause injuries in an airport, from random accidents like tripping over a passenger’s bags to acts of violence. When a worker is hurt, it is important they understand what types of work injury benefits are available.
An injured airport worker must go through the appropriate process to make a claim for benefits to cover work-injury losses. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help.
One big risk for airport workers is the threat of assault or violence while performing work tasks. According to Business Insurance, Governor Andrew Cuomo believes it should be a Class D felony to assault an airport worker, with a maximum penalty of up to seven years imprisonment upon conviction.
Cuomo made his proposal for making assault on an airport worker a felony in response to an attack on an employee in Kennedy International Airport who was wearing a hijab. The woman’s attacker was charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime, among other charges. Governor Cuomo has called for stricter penalties going forward for anyone who commits an assault crime against those who work in airport environments.
New York law currently protects many other transit workers from assault, including conductors and ticket inspectors on trains. The state has made it a felony to physically assault or batter these workers. Airport workers deserve the same protections because, like other transit workers, they are in a position where they must interact with the public, often in high-stress situations. They may be especially vulnerable to violence, particularly when travelers may be impaired or unruly. The frequency of attacks against airport workers was cited by Cuomo as one justification for making this type of offense a serious crime.
While laws protecting workers from violence at airports could potentially be helpful in reducing at least one cause of serious injury for airport workers, it certainly won’t address them all. Workers in airports face a wide range of hazards, from overexertion injuries while lifting heavy luggage to slip-and-falls to injuries caused by operating airport machinery.
When an employee at an airport is injured while acting in the course and scope of their job, that worker should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This assumes they are in fact employees, and not independent contractors. Criminal charges punish wrongdoers who commit violent acts, but it is workers’ compensation benefits that ensure an injured airport worker can attain coverage for medical bills and lost wages if the injury results in time of work or disability.
US News reported recently on one airport worker who had to pursue a workers’ comp appeal in order to get her injury benefits because of questions about whether her injuries were work-related. The decision made in the case by the workers’ compensation appeals board suggested an expansive view should be taken in determining if an injury is work-related so airport workers are broadly protected in case of harm.