Many young people think that becoming a pilot or flight attendant is something that will be fun and allow them to travel the world. They don’t realize that working on an aircraft in this manner can lead to serious hazards.
Flight attendants are ranked number eight on a list of the top 47 jobs that have a negative impact on your health. With an unhealthiness score of 62.3 out of 100, where 100 is the most unhealthy, it is easy to understand why airlines need to ensure that proper safety protocol is in place for these workers.
Members of the flight crew may sit for long periods. They are at risk of injuries from turbulence, heavy bags, and passenger violence. There is also a risk of them tripping on something in the aisle. While it is unlikely, they may have to deal with the hazards that come with a plane losing altitude.
Another primary problem is that they are confined in an enclosed space with many different people. If any one of those individuals has a contagious disease, they are at risk of catching it. This can be something as minor as a cold or stomach virus or as serious as measles or Ebola.
Unthought of risk
One risk that many people don’t think about for this profession is the possibility of cancer. A study notes that cancer is a major health risk for flight attendants. It was published in the journal Environmental Health and notes that male and female flight crew members are at an increased risk of cancer.
Male flight attendants were studied for nonmelanoma skin cancer and melanoma. Females were studied for gastrointestinal, breast, cervical, uterine, and thyroid cancer. It was found that every type of cancer looked at was at an increased rate in flight attendants.
Breast cancer rates were around 50% higher for female flight attendants than the general public. Females have melanoma skin cancer twice as much and nonmelanoma skin cancer four times as much. Male flight attendants had a 50% increase in melanoma skin cancer and a 10% increase in nonmelanoma skin cancer.
Prevention is the key
In all cases, having proper policies in place to prevent accidents and illnesses is imperative. Flight attendants should have vaccines that will help to stop them from contracting serious and preventable communicable conditions. Sunscreen may help to prevent some forms of cancer.
When a flight attendant is injured or becomes ill, prompt medical care is important. These workers may need workers’ compensation to cover those medical bills and provide other benefits.