Time-line for Achieving OSHA for Flight Attendants
1958 – Congress creates Federal Aviation Agency, (FAA) responsible for civil aviation safety.
1970 – The United States Congress and President Richard Nixon created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect the right to a safe and healthy workplace under the law and with government oversight.
1975 – FAA issues a Policy Statement to claim exclusive jurisdiction for all safety and health aspects of aircraft crewmembers.
1990 – AFA filed a petition for rulemaking with the FAA that asked the agency to adopt selected OSHA safety regulations and apply them to the crewmembers working in the airline industry, addressing such areas as the recording and reporting of injuries; access to employee exposure and medical records; right to inspections; safety definitions; the handling of hazardous materials; personal protective equipment; medical and first aid; fire protection, and toxic and hazardous substances.
1997 – FAA responds to the AFA petition for rulemaking with a one page rejection letter.
1999 – AFA forms the OSHA NOW coalition which seeks to have AFA members covered by OSHA. AFA, allies from the labor movement, women’s organizations and the medical community joined together in this broad-based coalition to pressure the Clinton Administration into providing Flight Attendants with the same health and safety protections that other workers already enjoy. In December, at an FAA Headquarters Public Hearing, AFA and five of our members testified about their serious injuries and illnesses while in the aircraft cabin, as well as hazards faced by all Flight Attendants.
2000 – The Clinton Administration responds and the FAA and OSHA sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance safety and health in the airline industry. Committee meets and published first report identifying several areas where existing OSHA protections could be implemented. The report calls for creating a working group to look for other areas where OSHA could be applied.
2001 – President Bush appointees in DOL and DOT did not further the stated purpose of the 2000 MOU between the FAA and OSHA.
2003 – Vision 100 FAA Reauthorization – AFA, working with Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, incorporates report language encouraging the FAA and OSHA to continue the work defined by the August 2000 Memorandum of Understanding and establish a coordination mechanism to determine which existing and future OSHA regulations could be applied to an aircraft in operation without compromising aviation safety.
2009 – President Obama appoints new heads of DOL and DOT. AFA meets with and urges both departments to resume work on the 2000 MOU.
2009 – FAA Reauthorization: AFA, working with House and Senate Committee staff, drafts language requiring cabin safety and health standards for Flight Attendants. The Senate bill directs FAA and OSHA to resume work on the 2000 MOU. The House bill requires the FAA to create an Occupational Safety Health division responsible for workplace safety issues.
2011 – AFA participates in multiple meetings with both OSHA and FAA to further work on the 2000 MOU, while also keeping the issue at the forefront during discussions with the DOT and DOL.
February 2012 – When the FAA Reauthorization is passed and signed into law, it includes a provision which requires the FAA and OSHA to establish milestones for completion of the 2000 MOU in a report that would establish a path for a policy statement. The law affirmed the work already underway through AFA’s persistent urging and the relationships built with the Obama appointees in the DOL, DOT, FAA and OSHA.
November 2012 – FAA and OSHA release a new policy statement. AFA’s long-term work with these agencies resulted in the FAA and OSHA replacing the 1975 policy statement, allowing OSHA oversight and to implement several standards to be applied for crewmembers working in an aircraft.