- Four Menzies workers have died on the job since 2006, at LAX and SFO. Two of them were crushed to death in separate incidents, for which Menzies Aviation was heavily fined. The most recent incident is still under investigation.
- The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) issued Menzies two serious violations and one willful serious violation at LAX in 2013. (Serious violations could result in serious physical harm or death, and willful violations indicate either “purposeful disregard” for the law or “plain indifference to employee safety.”)
- During the course of the investigation at LAX that resulted in the finding of serious and willful citations, Menzies had attempted to prevent Cal/OSHA investigators from completing their inspection of the company’s operations by blocking access to airport premises, forcing the investigators to obtain a warrant from the Los Angeles Superior Court.
- In response to citations issued by Oregon OSHA at the Portland International Airport, Menzies fired workers who initiated the state investigation; they sued the company and a jury awarded the fired workers over $300,000 in damages.
- Menzies’ operations at SEA-TAC have been involved in two incidents that resulted in planes being damaged by powered vehicles. As a result of one of these, a hole erupted in the side of the plane during flight. The jet suffered a rupture at 26,000 feet that forced an emergency landing.
Timeline of incidents endangering worker or passenger safety
- In 2005, a SEA-TAC Menzies worker bumped a plane with a baggage loaderi, which went unreported and resulted in an emergency return when a hole erupted in the side of the plane during flight. ii Just days after the first incident, another SEA-TAC Menzies worker damaged an Alaska jet when he accidentally put a tug into gear and pulled the plane into a passenger jetway. iii
- In 2006, an LAX Menzies worker was crushed to death by a powered vehicle in the company’s cargo racks. iv
- In 2006, an LAX Menzies worker sustained brain damage and fractured vertebrae after falling from a forklift. Cal/OSHA cited Menzies for two serious violations following an investigation. v The worker later died as a result of his injuries. vi
- In 2007, an SFO Menzies worker was crushed to death by a falling object. vii The ensuing Cal/OSHA investigation found nine violations, including four “serious” violations that were appealed down to three. viii Serious violations occur when conditions could cause an accident “that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm.” ix
- In 2010, two Portland Menzies workers complained that the company did not provide them access to bathrooms. When OSHA fined the company, the company fired both workers. The men sued Menzies and were awarded $332,000 by a jury in 2012, for lost wages, pain and suffering, and damages. x
- In 2013, Menzies’ LAX operation was fined almost $95,000 for numerous violations including two “serious” violations and one “willful serious” violation. xi These are violations which could result in serious physical harm or death, and in the case of a willful violation, where there was either “purposeful disregard” for the law or “plain indifference to employee safety.” xii
- During the 2013 Cal/OSHA investigation, Menzies failed to cooperate with a Cal/OSHA investigation of the company’s operations. The agency was forced to get a warrant from the Los Angeles Superior Court in order to complete its investigation of the company. xiii
- In 2014, a Menzies worker was killed when he was reportedly run over by the baggage tug that he was driving. While his death is still under investigation, the Coroner’s report made clear that his vehicle did not have a seat belt. xiv OSHA had previously issued a hazard alert to airlines and ground support contractors re-affirming their obligation to comply with seat belt use requirements in order to protect workers who operate baggage handling vehicles.xv
i D. Bowermaster, “Alaska Airlines chief riding out turbulence,” Seattle Times, 3-5-06.
ii D. Bowermaster and C. Phillips, “Menzies steps up supervision,” Seattle Times, 1-7-06.
vi see Workers Compensation Appeals Board Case No. 0343938 in the Aeroground Cal-OSHA pdf, p 2.
x A. Green, “Jury awards $322k to two men fired after complaining about lack of an on-the-job toilet,” The Oregonian, 5-22-12.
xiii “Menzies Aviation at LAX issued Willful Serious and 22 other cites,” This Week @ Headquarters (Cal/OSHA staff newsletter), Editor: Garrett Brown, June 13, 2013.
xiv Cesar Valenzuela Autopsy Report No 2014-01392, Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, County of Los Angeles, p 30.
xv “Delta Airlines signs agreement with US Department of Labor’s OSHA on seat belt compliance measures to protect airline industry workers, OSHA also issues hazard alert to other airlines urging compliance,” US Department of Labor News Release, April 16, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=22173
Letter from David Michaels to the Airline Industry, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2012.
Notice that airline contractors who provide ground handling services were also notified: Email communication between Change to Win Health and Safety Director Eric Frumin and OSHA staff member Patrick Kapust re: FW: Hazard Alert Letter–Ground Support Companies, March 6, 2014.