Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Safety and Health Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

First Advisor

One-Jang Jeng

Second Advisor

Arijit K. Sengupta

Third Advisor

Norman J. Van Houten

Abstract

A material or baggage handler is responsible for loading and unloading baggage and materials from inbound/outbound aircraft flights and transferring the materials to and from the baggage holding and sorting areas and back to the passengers or output source. Baggage handlers work in all types of inclement weather, all over the airport, and in-and-around the aircraft. The baggage handler's job entails repeated lifting pulling, pushing, squatting, twisting, kneeling, and stretching of the arms and back, which makes the baggage handler's job one of the more challenging material handling jobs to ergonomically assess and make corrections for. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the current literature available pertaining to baggage handlers and ergonomics, as well as examine all aspects of the baggage handlers' job in an effort to develop ergonomic solutions.

This thesis is based on the literature review of a core set of articles that thoroughly cover the major aspects of the baggage handlers' job, work environment, and ergonomic afflictions pertinent to the baggage handlers using ergonomic evaluation techniques. It was shown that typical solutions to ergonomic problems of baggage handlers, such as wearing back support belts, are not conclusively effective in reducing the back injury rate amongst airline baggage handlers. The redesign of workstations and aircraft holds, although thought to be the most effective idea due to success where already applied, was not the most practical or readily available solution financially. The future of ergonomic advancements in the field of airline material handling will rely on future research. Such a research will need to develop a benefit analysis to quantify the dollars spent on back-related injuries against the cost of remodeling aircrafts and workstations.

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