Dallas Medical Clinic Treating TSA Workers’ Injuries
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the injury and illness rate for Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) workers was a shocking 19.4 percent during 2004, while the average injury and illness rate for federal workers was just 5.5 percent. Why is there such a discrepancy between federal workers who screen passengers at airports and federal workers who hold other jobs?
The short and simple answer is that TSA workers face tough physical and mental conditions in an unideal work environment – and the government is not doing enough to make changes that will improve the safety and health of their workers. Most agree that the following issues result in more injuries and more severe injuries for TSA employees, the vast majority of which help screen passengers and bags for dangerous and illegal items before they board an aircraft:
- Employees must lift heavy bags and luggage for many consecutive hours per day.
- Employees must handle bags that contain unknown and possibly dangerous items.
- Employees work in small spaces that make it difficult to use proper lifting techniques.
- Outdated screening equipment makes it difficult for workers to use proper lifting techniques.
- Many airports suffer from worker shortages, putting too much work on the shoulders of TSA staff.
- Many TSA employees are not properly and thoroughly trained on the subject of worker health and safety, especially pertaining to proper lifting techniques.
At Work Injury MD, we are very familiar with the issues surrounding the TSA working environment, and we are dedicated to helping all TSA employees restore and retain their health and wellbeing. From working extensively with injured TSA workers, we have a deep understanding of the work conditions, as well as the common injuries, suffered by luggage screening employees. We know how to effectively diagnose and treat these injuries, and we have the knowledge, experience, and compassion to lead you from injury to recovery as quickly as possible.
We offer a full range of medical services to injured TSA employees, all under the guidance of our board-certified physician:
- Medical evaluations
- Diagnostic testing
- Acute care
- Medications and prescriptions
- Pain management
- Physical therapy
If you are a TSA employee suffering from lifting-related injuries, or if you have been injured in any on-the-job accident, we want to help.
How Heavy Lifting Causes TSA Worker Injuries
By far the most common cause of TSA worker injuries stems from lifting bags. The majority of TSA workers are involved in screening luggage, and many face a near-constant wave of passengers with heavy checked bags and carry-ons, all of which need to be x-rayed and/or searched by hand. While moving a bag onto a conveyer belt does not seem like an arduous task, doing so hundreds of times each day can lead to overuse and overexertion injuries. In addition, lifting even one heavy bag in the wrong way can lead to an acute injury, such as a strain or sprain. The most common injuries associated with heavy lifting include:
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Slipped or herniated discs
- Pinched nerves
- Muscle strains
- Muscle sprains
- Tendonitis (from repetitive lifting)
- Crushing injuries (when a bag is dropped)
- Bone fractures (when a bag is dropped)
It is vital that lifting injuries are treated as quickly as possible – and that the injured worker does not continue to lift bags during recovery. It is also vital that employees who suffer from lifting injuries recover completely, and that they learn proper lifting and injury prevention techniques before returning to work and lifting tasks.
Four Other Common TSA Employee Injuries
Improper lifting, heavy lifting, and repetitive lifting are not the only causes of TSA employee injuries. Below, read about four other common TSA worker injuries that often cause employees to miss work for days, weeks, or months as they recover:
- Cuts from sharp objects within bags that are being screened. Bag screeners must often physically search bags after a restricted or illegal item is spotted by the x-ray machine. In some instances, searchers who plunge their hands into unknown luggage will be cut or punctured by a sharp object, such as a knife, scissors, or even a needle. These cuts can be debilitating and painful, and keep searchers from the job during recovery.
- Injuries and broken bones from dropped or fallen baggage. Heavy luggage isn’t just dangerous to lift, it can be a hazard when it is dropped or when it topples. TSA workers can be injured when bags land on their hands, legs, and feet, causing crush injuries like broken bones.
- Wrist and hand injuries from repetitive stress. TSA bag screeners aren’t just lifting bags, they are also sliding them, undoing zippers, and dozens of other repetitive tasks. These tasks, when completed hundreds or thousands of times each day, can cause overuse and overexertion injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis, especially in the wrists and hands. These injuries must be treated with rest, medication, physical therapy, and even possibly surgery in extreme cases.
- Fall injuries. Like many jobs, simple slip and fall injuries are a common workplace injury. Falls are even more common among TSA employees due to their often cramped working conditions and the chaotic nature of checking bags at an airport. Fall accidents can result in a wide swath of injuries, including head, neck, and back injuries.
In addition to these four types of TSA employee injuries, there are a large number of other ailments, conditions, and complaints common among airline baggage workers. Both mild and severe injuries should be seen as soon as possible by a medical professional to minimize the long-term impact of the injury.
Preventing Future TSA Worker Injuries
How can we improve the working conditions of TSA employees and reduce the injury rate of baggage screening workers? Here are four big ideas that many worker advocates believe would help prevent accidents and keep employees well:
- Educate workers on proper lifting and injury preventing. The biggest step that we can take toward improving the rate of TSA worker injuries is education: Making certain that every employee knows how to properly lift bags and is familiar with the first signs and symptoms of overuse injuries.
- Update workspaces to be more ergonomic. Because many aspects of baggage searches were not developed until after many airports in the United States were designed and built, TSA workspaces are often not designed with the worker in mind, and are cramped and crowded. This means that employees often don’t have the space to properly lift bags. Updating these work spaces will significantly reduce repetitive motion and improper lifting injuries.
- Evolve screening protocol to promote worker safety. Many ergonomic and worker safety experts believe that screening baggage procedures should be changed so that there is minimal lifting and movement from TSA workers. Of course, these changes are large and expensive to make, and involve a national push to improve TSA employee conditions.
- Hire more workers to lighten overall physical load. TSA employees are often overworked, especially around high-travel seasons like holidays and summertime. Simply making certain that there are not TSA worker shortages would help prevent overuse and overexertion injuries.
Working Toward Health After A Neck, Back, Or Shoulder Injury
At Worker Injury MD, we have a set process for getting injured TSA employees feeling better and back on the road to recovery after an accident or injury. After an initial consultation with our doctor we will:
- Correctly diagnose the condition. This involves talking with your doctor, undergoing a careful exam, and taking any necessary diagnostic tests.
- Relieve pain. Our pain management program is designed to give you pain relief while administering a safe and minimal amount of pain relief drugs.
- Restore functioning. Restoring functioning often consists of rest, steroid injections, or, in a minority of cases, surgery.
- Strengthen and restore range of motion. Physical therapy and physiotherapy often work wonders are our patients recover from their injuries and begin to strengthen their bodies once again.
- Prevent future injury and re-injury. Our staff understands that one of the most important aspects of recovery for injured workers is understanding what caused their health condition in the first place, and knowing what they can do when they return to work to prevent similar future issues.
Talk To Our Work Injury MD Doctor Today
Don’t wait to learn more about your work-related injury, get pain relief, and get your body back into healthy, working shape. At Work Injury MD, we are committed to helping TSA employees and all federal workers bounce back from workplace injuries and back at their jobs. To learn more about our full-service clinic, to talk to a board-certified doctor about your case, or to schedule an exam, fill out our quick contact form in order to receive occasional updates about our clinic.