- Published: July 18, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS), the union that represents more than 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, today expressed serious concern about unsafe working conditions for employees assigned to
Burlington International Airport. Several different complaints from FAA employees reveal a disturbing pattern of negligence and indifference regarding the safety of its employees.
The most recent occurrence involves employees unknowingly being exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation for at least the last six months. Radiation leaks inside the facility that houses the long range radar systems were first detected in August 2005, but FAA supervisors waited until February 2006 to alert the workers.
But the radiation exposure was not an isolated event. In June of 2005, several employees were exposed to PCBs, a mixture of chemicals demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects, when the supervisor inappropriately directed them to clean up hazardous materials without training or appropriate equipment to do so.
Other examples include management’s negligence in addressing the most basic safety requirements – such as the structural integrity of a staircase. In December 2005, an employee fell from the faulty steps and incurred broken ribs as a result. Despite the injury, the supervisor failed to report the incident or fix the staircase. Management’s solution was to post a “Do Not Use” sign on the stairs.
“Safety should be the FAA’s number one concern, both for air travelers and for its employees. The agency has no excuse for allowing these hazardous working conditions to remain unaddressed,” said Tom Brantley, PASS national president. “The FAA should investigate and report why supervisors in Burlington let their employees work in dangerous conditions for so long without any attempts to fix the problem.”
Despite formal complaints, FAA supervisors have been dismissive at best. In February 2006, employees filed Department of Labor injury forms in regards to the radiation exposure. As of March 16, 2006, the supervisor in Burlington has still not completed the required response forms.
PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at www.passnational.org.