screening areas

Airport workers worried about dirty screening areas

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A recent submission from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) expresses safety and health concerns related to airport pre-board screening areas under the control of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Transport Canada (TC).

The IAM, the largest union in the air transport sector in Canada and North America, sent a list of recommendations to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN) that include concerns over the amount of dust in security screening work areas and within machines.

“It causes health and safety issues for the pre-board screening officers, flight crew and passengers using the system across the country,” states the IAM. “In British Columbia, a partial solution has been put in place to address this situation. A cleaning company has been hired to clean the work area, but not the machines because they are not allowed to tamper with security equipment.”

Address dust issue

Part of the problem has been solved but the machines are still very dirty, causing complaints among many passengers. In Toronto, both problems have yet to be addressed by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). The IAM recommends that CATSA and service providers work together to address the “dust issue” in screening areas on a weekly basis.

Ongoing construction at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is causing dust to collect, which is mainly debris falling from the ceiling. Screeners have to work in an environment where the air is full of dust, but are not allowed to wear dust masks. Dust is also coating the top of x-ray machines and surfaces below, like carpets and tables.

Passengers and screeners are then exposed to the dust after touching luggage, the machines and surfaces. The IAM says the GTAA hasn’t yet addressed the situation, perhaps because screener protocol involves reporting dust to the Health and Safety Committee.

Address poor test results on equipment

Screeners are also concerned about leaking x-ray machines. They have a strong feeling the machines are leaking, but feel that the testing NAV Canada is conducting isn’t transparent. When CATSA is questioned, there is no feedback and the matter is often referred to routine testing in accordance with Safety Code 29: Requirements for the Safe Use of Baggage X-Ray Inspection Systems.

“It seems that CATSA is not taking their findings seriously,” states the IAM. In B.C., the IAM has asked for the test results done by Nav Canada who services and maintains the equipment. So far, they have not been successful either. This obviously could have an impact on how machines work and impact the safety of workers along with passengers being processed.

The IAM recommends CATSA address poor test results on equipment as they are responsible for these machines and discuss the matter with service providers in order to find a solution, improve the quality of equipment and make sure the safety of airports is maintained.

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