Evaluation of ergonomic risk factors, thermal exposures, and job stress at an airline catering facility
Advanced Search
Select up to three search categories and corresponding keywords using the fields to the right. Refer to the Help section for more detailed instructions.

Search our Collections & Repository

All these words:

For very narrow results

This exact word or phrase:

When looking for a specific result

Any of these words:

Best used for discovery & interchangable words

None of these words:

Recommended to be used in conjunction with other fields



Publication Date Range:


Document Data


Document Type:






Clear All

Query Builder

Query box

Clear All

For additional assistance using the Custom Query please check out our Help Page


Evaluation of ergonomic risk factors, thermal exposures, and job stress at an airline catering facility

Filetype[PDF-1.26 MB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Description:
      The Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from a union representing airline catering employees at one facility. The union was concerned about work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), extreme hot and cold temperatures, job stress, and employees being injured while working in the kitchen and on the loading docks. At the time of our visit, the facility had approximately 500 employees and operated two shifts. The company catered for one major airline and serviced 16 international flights and 220-260 domestic flights per day. Employees prepared food, beverages, and nonfood amenities. During our evaluation we (1) observed job tasks to see if they posed a risk for work-related MSDs, (2) measured workstation heights and reach distances to determine work-related MSD risk, (3) looked at OSHA logs of work-related injuries and illnesses, (4) measured air temperature and air flow inside cold rooms, and carbon monoxide concentrations at loading docks, and (5) interviewed employees about their work, medical history, health symptoms, job stress, personal protective equipment use, and health and safety concerns. We found that employees were exposed to a combination of risk factors for work-related MSDs including awkward postures, forceful exertions, and repetitive motions. The most common injuries reported on the logs were musculoskeletal strain, sprain, or pain. Air temperature inside the food prep cold room averaged 43.1°F and 40.8°F in the international cold food room. Average air velocities were less than the cold stress ACGIH TLV of 200 feet per minute, thereby reducing the potential cooling effect of air movement. The potential exists for autoclave operators and delivery truck drivers to work in hot conditions during the summer months. No confined space entry procedures were in place for cleaning the autoclave. Employees reported health concerns from hot and cold temperatures, diesel exhaust entering the loading docks during winter days, and reported time pressure, high workload, and lack of social support. To address the risk for work-related MSDs, we recommended redesigning work stations, providing work tables with adjustable heights, rotating employees to different job tasks after every break, and educating employees on MSDs and ergonomics. For cold rooms we recommended installing horizontal baffle deflectors on all refrigerator fans, and providing employees alternative gloves and warm water or dry air heaters to warm their hands. To address the potential for heat stress, we recommended the employer (1) develop and implement a heat stress prevention program, (2) establish mandatory breaks for employees exposed to heat, and (3) ensure new trucks have air conditioning. We also recommended the employer (1) develop a written autoclave cleaning procedure addressing confined space, lockout/tagout, and personal protective equipment; (2) train employees on the health effects of exposure to cold and hot temperatures; (3) present all information to employees in a manner that they can understand; (4) seal loading docks so diesel truck exhaust does not enter the building; and (5) explore and address issues of job stress.

      Recommended citation for this report: NIOSH [2014]. Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of ergonomic risk factors, thermal exposures, and job stress at an airline catering facility. By Ramsey JG, Musolin K, Ceballos D, Wiegand D, Mead K. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH HHE Report No. 2011-0131-3221.

      NIOSHTIC No. 20045140

    • Document Type:
    • Place as Subject:
    • Main Document Checksum:
    • File Type:

    Supporting Files

    • No Additional Files

    More +

    You May Also Like

    Checkout today's featured content at stacks.cdc.gov