Student Research: Michael Harris

MS, , 2005
Faculty Advisor: Noah S. Seixas

Organizational Factors Influencing the Use of Fall Protection in Aircraft Maintenance


Falls are one of the most serious risks in private industry today. In 2002, there were 272,988 reports of nonfatal injuries due to falls. That same year, they accounted fro 11% of workplace fatalities. Construction workers had a fatal fall rate almost ten times higher than any other industry. This is often attributed to the unpredictable, ever-changing nature of their work. In this way, construction is similar to aircraft maintenance. Aircraft mechanics must deal with frequent changes in task and worksite (the aircraft themselves). They must also frequently work at height. The industry is a unique one, but there are no vertical standards or even research that covers the hazards faced by workers. Yet these hazards clearly exist, as evidenced by a 1999 fatality in Washington State that occurred with an aircraft mechanic fell from an elevated platform.

The goals of this study are threefold. The first is to better characterize the fall injury risk in the industry through workplace observation so that problematic areas may be found. The second is to gauge the safety climate, knowledge level, and personal beliefs about safety through questionnaires. Finally we have hypothesized that higher scores in the aforementioned categories will lead to lower levels of noncompliance. By comparing the observation data with the questionnaire date, we intend to test that hypothesis.

Taken from the beginning of thesis.