Assessment of Occupational Safety and Health Issues in Aircraft Maintenance


Principal investigator: Richard (Rick) Neitzel

Co-Invesigator/Trainee: Sarah Gharib

Source of funding: UM SPH Office of Global Public Health


Although aircraft maintenance operations are critical to the movement of people and goods around the world, the occupational health and safety risks faced by aircraft maintenance workers are not well understood. We propose to partner with an Airline in the Middle East to study occupational health and safety risks among workers at the aircraft maintenance base. We will recruit participants (N=100 workers) who will complete a baseline survey on a number of occupational safety and health factors (e.g., behaviors, injuries, near misses, and safety climate) as well as a full-shift noise measurement and activity diary. A researcher will also observe workers to assess the prevalence of unsafe conditions and behaviors. We will use these data to assess the prevalence of health and safety hazards, injuries, and near-misses, and evaluate the role of safety climate in these events. Our study has two specific aims.

  • Specific Aim 1: To analyze injuries, near misses, safety hazards, and noise. Participants will complete a baseline survey addressing injury and near miss (i.e., an event that could have resulted in an injury or accident) experience, job activities, perceptions of workplace hazards, use of protective equipment, and safety climate of the participants’ immediate work-group. On the same day workers will also complete a full-shift noise measurement and activity diary noting injuries and near misses. A researcher will also make repeated observations (n=500) of the facility to quantify the prevalence of unsafe conditions and behaviors. Using these data we will describe the prevalence of injuries and near misses, as well as noise levels, at the facility.
  • Specific Aim 2: To evaluate the relationships between multiple measures of safety and safety climate. We will assess the associations between reported safety climate at the work-group level and the prevalence of self-reported injuries and near misses. We will also assess the relationship between safety climate and the unsafe conditions and behaviors observed by the researcher. These data will help evaluate the degree to which safety climate may be used to explain high injury and near miss rates among aircraft maintenance workers. The proposed study has three objectives: (1) Establish a new partnership between an airway transportation company in the Middle East and the University of Michigan that will benefit both parties and ideally create additional opportunities for UM research there; (2) evaluate occupational health and safety hazards to which employees are exposed; and (3) evaluate the association between injuries, near misses, perceived and observed hazards, and safety culture.