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A Safe and Healthy Workplace

FAA employees have a right to a safe and healthy working environment. All of NATCA’s collective bargaining agreements have a provision where the FAA has agreed to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. This contractual protection for bargaining unit employees is found under headings such as Occupational Safety and Health and/or Asbestos. According to these contract articles, the FAA is supposed to make every reasonable effort to keep an employee’s work area in good repair. This article covers more than just OSHA regulations; it covers all issues affecting an bargaining unit employee’s health and safety at work. Issues such as mold, water damages, insect infestation, and electric shocks from dry air are all covered by this article.

Unfortunately, it appears the FAA has not always been proactive in keeping its facilities in good repair or addressing maintenance issues. NATCA has heard countless stories about buildings in disrepair, lapses in cleanliness, or the existence of actual hazards. Items such as missing railings to stairwells and bird droppings have caused serious illness and injury to many members. Employees have several avenues to help correct the problems though. If OSHA regulates the issue, a complaint can be filed with OSHA to address the issue, for example, the missing railing on a stairwell. For unregulated issues, mold for example, an employee needs to file a grievance under the Occupational Safety and Health article of the contract.

FAA has also developed several internal policies regarding health and safety in the workplace that are binding on the Agency. FAA Order 3900 addresses OSHA issues and the FAA Indoor Air Quality Policy covers many issues involving the heating and cooling systems as well as general air quality in FAA facilities. These polices are enforceable via the grievance process.

NATCA also has the right to request records regarding the building’s safety, such as inspection reports, complaints filed, and test results for air, water, asbestos, and mold. A NATCA representative just needs to file an information request asking for the information and indicate that they are investigating whether the FAA is upholding their obligations under the Health and Safety article of the contract. If the information reveals problems or indicates that the FAA has failed to fix known hazards, NATCA can take further action by filing a grievance or other complaint to get the matter addressed by FAA.

Questions concerning these matters should be directed to your local representative or regional vice president.