Airport workers in Philly say they, passengers at risk for illness, injury
PHILADELPHIA — Wheelchair attendants at Philadelphia International Airport said Monday that defective equipment, lack of training and exposure to bodily fluids have led to unsafe working conditions for employees and the disabled passengers they transport.
Wheelchairs often have bad brakes, broken handle grips or other problems, according to employees of PrimeFlight, which contracts with airlines to provide the service.
“I care about my passengers who come through the airport, and I don't want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt,” said Nikisha Watson, a wheelchair attendant for the past three years.
Watson and others said they have not been properly trained to aid passengers with disabilities, including helping them to use the restroom. And there is no health or safety protocol for cleaning wheelchairs soiled by sick passengers, they added.
“We're definitely not given the training on how to deal with accidents like this,” Watson said during a news conference at City Hall.
A representative of Tennessee-based PrimeFlight did not immediately return a request for comment.
The local chapter of Service Employees International Union 32BJ filed complaints with two federal agencies last week on the workers' behalf. The workers are not union members, though they would like to be, said union spokeswoman Julie Blust.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration started an investigation of PrimeFlight in response to the allegations, agency spokeswoman Leni Fortson said Monday.
The union also filed complaints with the Transportation Department against three airlines — United, US Airways and Southwest — that contract with PrimeFlight in Philadelphia.
The complaints cite a federal law that requires airlines to provide adequate training and equipment for those who assist disabled passengers, or to ensure that their contractors do so.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lawyers donate thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania Supreme Court race
- Reports grim for Pennsylvania’s state-run veterans homes
- All Pennsylvanians to pay more, GOP gleans from report on Wolf’s tax plan
- Pa. justices to consider murky case on charities
- Official: Shots fired near Adams County Prison, person in custody
- State’s homeless rate begins to decrease