SUBSCRIBE TO TMCnet
TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community

TMCNet:  SEIU Announces LAX Contractor Menzies Aviation Hit With $77,250 Fine for Four

[August 20, 2014]

SEIU Announces LAX Contractor Menzies Aviation Hit With $77,250 Fine for Four "Serious" Safety Violations

LOS ANGELES --(Business Wire)--

SEIU United Service Workers West today issued the following:

California's workplace safety agency today issued citations related to the tragic death of Cesar Valenzuela, a ramp worker at Los Angeles World Airports (LAX) who was killed in February when he was thrown from a vehicle that was not equipped with a functioning seatbelt.

The California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) fines against Menzies Aviation - Cesar's employer at LAX - totaled $77,250 for what the agency termed "three serious accident related, one serious and one regulatory violation."

According to Cal/OSHA, the agency's investigation found "Menzies' safety policy on the operation of tow tractors in and around LAX did not require, and in fact discouraged, the use of safety belts in certain areas of the airport." During the investigation, the Cal/OSHA inspector "noted that numerous employees were observed operating tow tractors without using seatbelts or other restraints." The investigation also revealed inadequate vehicle inspection procedures.

"This fatality could have been prevented with a well thought-out and implemented safety plan, as is required for all worksites in California," Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations which oversees Cal/OSHA said in the agency's press release."

"Cesar often spoke about hazardous conditions at Menzies, including unsafe vehicles, outdated equipment and the tremendous pressure to work quickly," said Ulbita Ramirez, Cesar's partner of 23 years. "After his death we wanted answers. Now we know Cesar might still be alive today if Menzies cared enough to make sure their vehicles were safe to drive or if airport authorities cared enough to ensure safe jobs at LAX."

LAX WORKER DEATH 4th MENZIES AVIATION TRAGEDY IN CALIFORNIA AIRPORTS SINCE 2006

Menzies - a global company that provides baggage handling and cargo services to major airlines at LAX and airport around the country - has a troubling safety record. Cesar is the fourth Menzies worker to die following workplace accidents in California airports over the past eight years, a total of three deaths at LAX and one at San Francisco International Airport.


In 2013, Menzies was fined nearly $95,000 by Cal/OSHA for unsafe practices, including the type of safety violations that can cause serious harm or death. One of the 23 citations was for failing to comply with state seatbelt rules. During the Cal/OSHA investigation, Menzies attempted to block inspectors from entering airport premises, forcing the agency to obtain a search warrant.

"For years we have said our jobs at LAX are unsafe but the airlines, their contractors and the airport authority ignored the problem," said Jose Orellana, a ramp agent with Menzies Aviation at LAX. "The facts around Cesar's death are some of the same problems we deal with all the time at LAX. Vehicles breakdown and are not repaired. I've had to use tugs with missing seatbelts and brakes that don't work."

Menzies failed to show up to a California State Assembly hearing in May on improving airport worker and passenger safety. During that hearing, state representatives questioned whether airlines and the Los Angeles airport authority had stepped up to address worker safety concerns and also raised questions as to whether there was an appropriate culture of safety at LAX.

LAX requires airline service providers that operate at the airport to comply with responsible contractor standards. The Los Angeles airport authority is currently in the process of re-certifying the licenses of all airline contractors that operate at LAX. A decision concerning whether to re-certify Menzies' LAX license is expected later this year.

COALITION CALLS ON (News - Alert) LAX AUTHORITIES TO KEEP OTHER WORKERS SAFE

Airport workers, political leaders, workplace health and safety advocates have joined members of Cesar's family to calling on the airport to hold Menzies accountable and to exercise its oversight authority to enforce of safety standards at LAX.

"An unsafe, unaccountable company like Menzies is unacceptable at our airport," said David Huerta, President of SEIU United Service Workers West, representing nearly 2,500 workers at LAX. The traveling public deserves better and those working everyday on dangerous runways deserve better. Workers punching in at the start of a shift ought to be able to finish the day without risking their health or losing their life. That is not the case with Menzies at LAX."

TRAGEDY HIGHLIGHTS GROWING TREND OF AIRPORT WORKPLACE SAFETY VIOLATIONS

Cesar Valenzuela's death highlights a broader pattern of risks faced by US airport workers following reports of similar deaths in other airports including New York's La Guardia airport and Seattle's Sea-Tac airport. A 2007 U.S. General Accountability office found that fatal airport ramp accidents were happening at a rate of six per year nationwide.

The missing seatbelt in Cesar's vehicle is particularly troubling since in 2012 OSHA put the airline industry on notice by sending a hazard alert reminding them of their responsibility to ensure seatbelts are installed and used in all baggage handling vehicles. This warning came after an airport worker in Atlanta died in circumstances similar to Cesar's death. Together, Cesar's death and the other recent airport tragedies speak to broader issues that are impacting airport safety and security.

Service workers employed by airline contractors in low paying jobs are particularly vulnerable to unsafe working conditions where work is often performed behind the security perimeter and hidden from public view.

SEIU United Service Workers West represents more than 40,000 janitors, security officers, airport workers, and other property service workers across California.


[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]

OTHER NEWS PROVIDERS







Technology Marketing Corporation

800 Connecticut Ave, 1st Floor East, Norwalk, CT 06854 USA
Ph: 800-243-6002, 203-852-6800
Fx: 203-866-3326

General comments: tmc@tmcnet.com.
Comments about this site: webmaster@tmcnet.com.

STAY CURRENT YOUR WAY

© 2014 Technology Marketing Corporation. All rights reserved.