May 8, 2017
AFA has been the leader in working to improve Cabin Air Quality on our aircraft. Our members have always insisted on the best possible representation which includes safeguarding Flight Attendant safety and health. This is why our union has made it a priority to create and maintain an Air Safety, Health and Security Department devoted to just such a purpose. A portion of the dues from all AFA members allows us to have our own Industrial Hygienist, Judith Anderson, on staff. She works directly with the various MEC Air Safety Health and Security (ASH&S) chairs, including Mari-Rene Alu at AFA Spirit, to define and address the issue of onboard chemical exposure . At Spirit, Judith also works with our pilot’s union because by partnering on an issue like this, which affects both work groups, we can present a strong unified front to effect change. And from the AFA office in DC, Judith is joined by AFA staff with expertise in OSHA and EAP which are such important tools for us on both a local and national level.
Beyond the fumes work at Spirit specifically, AFA works in the following ways to improve conditions onboard:
Judith will be participating in a seminar at Spirit scheduled for June 15, 2017.
Here at Spirit, our ASH&S Chair Mari-Rene Alu is a tireless advocate for clean onboard air. She has published numerous articles written collaboratively with Judith and distributed them directly to the membership via our newsletters. We just sent a newsletter last month in partnership with ALPA and Corporate Safety. These articles and other resources are available on our Spiritafa.org website under Committees – Air Safety, Health and Security.
Last year, we provided a Spirit-AFA Fume Event information card for all of our members. These cards explain how to identify if a fume event has occurred and what procedures to take if you believe you have been exposed. Mari-Rene and her committee are available to speak directly with any Flight Attendant who has questions about fume events. The Committee has been very successful in educating Flight Attendants on what is actually a FUME event. According to Mari-Rene, “You will not ‘think’ you have had an event. You will know it.” Check out the AFA fumes powerpoint slideshow.
AFA has built a strong relationship with our ALPA counterparts at Spirit, and we have worked together to produce accessible educational materials for both work groups. AFA believes that having great CRM with your front end crew is essential, and our work with ALPA has contributed to the education of Spirit Pilots on this issue, which helps all of us.
One of the most important tools, available via our MEC AFA website, is the Air Quality Check List. This checklist provides the same information included as part of the Fume Card, as well as the procedures (i.e., who to call, how to report, etc.) to follow if you are exposed to fumes. Because of the work we’ve accomplished together these are the only acceptable and authorized forms of documentation recognized by both your front end crew and management. In addition, the AFA International air quality page is filled with resources, including practical information for members to educate themselves on fumes. And beyond fumes, the AFA-international safety, health, and security website also includes useful information on uniforms, fatigue, OSHA issues, reproductive health, radiation, pesticides, self-defense training, and much more.
Last week, AFA International President Sara Nelson testified before Congress where she talked about Toxic Fumes in the cabin.
Check it out before you fly!
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