Airlines facing legal action over toxic fume exposure
2 Years ago Roberts Jackson reported the deaths of two airline pilots that had allegedly been caused by toxic fumes entering the cockpit and other areas of the plane . A lot of research and investigating has been done since and now it appears that they may have a case against the airlines that exposed them.
It is being widely reported  that 17 airline staff are set to bring legal action against their employers for failing to prevent exposure to fumes leaking into aeroplane cabins during flights.
The issue stems from a technique used to pump air in via the plane’s engines known as “bleed air”. Hot air being pumped through the engines is typically cooled and then fed into the plane however researchers and campaigners are arguing that seals on the engines of the planes are failing, allowing chemicals known as organophosphates, along with engine oil and hydraulic fluid to be mixed in with the air.
Airlines, like any other employer, are expected to follow the Control of Substances Hazardous to Heath regulations meaning that appropriate assessments should be carried out on the air quality they are exposing staff and consumers to. Since the issue was first raised in 2005 by airline staff it does not appear that commercial airline companies have taken these duties seriously enough leading to potential legal action.
More modern planes such as the new Boeing 787 look to be addressing the situation by implementing a “Bleed free technology” to supply the cabin with air. In the last year there have been over 250 incidents of “fume events” meaning that, although some airlines are taking a step in the right direction, there is a lot more that needs to be done to protect cabin crew and regular airline passengers.
Roberts Jackson Solicitors specialise in Industrial Disease and handle many legal cases where employees have been exposed to hazardous substances leading to respiratory and skin conditions. If you or anyone you know has been affected by hazardous fumes and toxic substances at work then we urge you to get in touch to discuss your legal options.