Every pilot faces an array of occupational hazards that can lead not only to work accidents, but also to ill health.
Pilot health hazards
A pilot carries responsibility for the safety and lives of other crew members and passengers. This kind of responsibility requires constant, top level vigilance at all times. The pressure subsequently put upon a pilot can lead to work stress-related problems including insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Dehydration (air conditioning typically keeps cabin air much drier than ‘normal’ air) and deep vein thrombosis are also very real health hazards for pilots, as is hypoxia, an altitude-related condition where the brain does not receive adequate amounts of oxygen to function properly.
Probably the most worrying health hazards for pilots, however, has to be their exposure to UV-A radiation, as well as their potential exposure to radiation (including subatomic particles, gamma rays and x-rays) from space.
Made from multi-layer composite glass or polycarbonate plastics, aircraft windshields fail to completely block out UV-A radiation. Exposed to as much radiation when flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet for an hour as they would spending 20 minutes on tanning beds, pilots are subsequently also at risk of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. According to researchers (University of California) levels of exposure could be even higher when UV radiation is reflected by snow fields or thick clouds.
Pilots are also exposed to the risk of slips, trips and falls when boarding or leaving planes and other accidents at work. Such accidents could consist of mechanical failures releasing harmful fumes into the cockpit or causing fires and explosions or, in the worst case scenario, plane crashes.
Airlines and health and safety risks
Airlines, like other employers, are bound by law to protect the safety and health of pilots, cabin crews and passengers. This means they are required to assess possible risks and take all practicable steps to prevent accidents and work-related illnesses.
Entitlement to compensation
If you were injured in a plane crash or other work-related accident while boarding, leaving or flying a plane or developed an industrial illness as a result of exposure to harmful fumes/substances or rays, you could be entitled to make a work injury claim. Confirm your claim eligibility and learn more about how to claim for compensation by calling us, Accident Advice Helpline, on free phone 0800 689 0500 now. The number to call if you are using a mobile is 0333 500 0993.
Date Published: December 9, 2015
Author: David Brown