No one likes to hear about accidents that are fully preventable, especially when there is a fatality involved. It would seem that driving a baggage tractor should have minimal risks involved. Unfortunately, when recommended safety procedures are not followed it can end in tragedy.
In 2014, a worker driving a baggage tractor was killed because he neglected to wear his seat belt. This completely avoidable loss of life opened an investigation to determine what could be done differently. It was determined in this particular case that the driver had a medical condition that caused him to pass out behind the wheel and fall from the tractor. It was later determined that it was the fall that killed him, not the medical condition. The simple act of using his seat belt could have saved his life.
OSHA published a pamphlet that describes the different types of tractors that are used with a brief overview of the equipment on board and safety procedures that should be followed. The pamphlet is entitled “Baggage Tugs and Carts: Fundamentals Reference Guide”.
Improving safety features on baggage tractors and other ground support equipment has been a prime focus of many manufacturers. Baggage tractor safety has greatly improved in models that offer:
- Easy to use hand brakes that can hold a full load at a 10% incline
- Service brakes that stop the tractor completely at 12 mph
- Maximum speed controls
- Stability at inclines of 17% in its most unstable condition
- Secure seat belts
Most models manufactured after 2007 offer these key safety features. Refurbished models offer a cost effective way of getting the top safety rated equipment without having to lay out a big chunk of capital to purchase new equipment. Companies that are concerned about worker safety should always ensure that their equipment has the latest safety features.
Clearly safe equipment will help to reduce injuries, but the majority of “safety responsibility” actually lies in the hands of the operator. Under 14CFR139, the FAA outlines the certification responsibilities of airports that allow the operation of baggage tractors. The guidelines suggested are basic and include things such as “never leave the tractor unattended” and “know the hitch system”. A properly trained operator can avoid most of the common safety issues like tip overs, skidding on wet surfaces and colliding with other vehicles.
Mercury GSE has over 30 years of experience in providing safe, reliable baggage tractors to a global client base. View their website to obtain additional information, or give them a call today.
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