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Federal lawsuit highlights workers' risk in one employment realm

You know it's heavy and unwieldly.

When you're stuffing a suitcase or other travel bag full of necessities en route to a vacation or business trip, you likely become aware rather quickly that lugging that appendage around for more than a minute or two would be an unwanted chore.

Imagine doing it for a living.

Lifting, loading and unloading baggage is the all-day-all-the-time task of baggage handlers working in airports in West Virginia and across the country, and it is unquestionably hard work.

It is also poses prominent safety risks, given all the reaching, twisting, bending and hoisting that handlers routinely engage in.

We note on our legal blog at the Raleigh County Law Office of Stephen P. New that work-related injuries "can result in serious long-term ailments that can make it difficult to do your job or even live a normal life." In stating that truism, we certainly acknowledge that baggage handling easily qualifies as a high-risk work realm contributing to debilitating worker injuries.

That occupation was at center stage in a federal lawsuit involving United Airlines that recently settled, with that global carrier agreeing to take remedial measures to better protect baggage handlers at one airport. Reportedly, insufficient safeguards contributed to more than 600 musculoskeletal injuries suffered by handlers over one measuring period.

The plaintiff in the litigation was the U.S. Department of Labor, which contended in its lawsuit that United committed a so-called "serious" violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

A DOL spokesperson stated following the settlement that the pact will have a broad-based and salutary effect on other carriers, which will "be compelled to follow" the safety measures that United will now implement.

Repetitive stress injuries are common in many industries, bringing materially adverse results for the workers they affect. Questions or concerns regarding a workplace injury or accident can be addressed to an experienced workers' compensation attorney who routinely promotes the interests of employees in work-related injury matters.

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