MONTGOMERY, AL ‒ Had Piedmont Airlines made sure that a ground crew followed required safety procedures, a 34-year-old customer service agent might have avoided suffering fatal injuries after being pulled into the spinning turbines of a jet engine in December 2022 at Montgomery Regional Airport.

An investigation into the New Year’s Eve fatality by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that, as the wing walker on a ground crew placed cones around an Embraer E75 passenger plane, suction near one of the plane’s engines pulled her inward.

“Proper training and enforcement of safety procedures could have prevented this tragedy,” said OSHA Area Director Jose A. Gonzalez in Mobile, Alabama. “This incident is a tragic reminder that safety measures must be in place even for a routine assignment.”

OSHA issued Piedmont Airlines a citation for one serious violation for exposing ground crew workers to ingestion hazards while performing aircraft marshalling, wing-walking and baggage-handling tasks. The airline faces $15,625 in proposed penalties, an amount set by federal statute.

A subsidiary of American Airlines, Piedmont Airlines Inc. is based in Salisbury, Maryland. Piedmont has about 10,000 employees who provide ground and gate operation services at various airports throughout the U.S.

The company has contested the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Learn more about OSHA standards and solutions to protect airline industry workers.

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