11th May 2018 – In Recognition of Our Ground Handling Agents

When we take a much-needed overseas holiday, few of us pause to consider the intricate system which actually makes sure that we, and our luggage, arrive at our chosen destination. SMI recently joined Fortdress International at FoodEx, which hosted 30,000 attendees from all over the globe. All of those attendees heading to Birmingham from abroad had their safe transit firmly in the hands of Ground Handling Agents.

One of the unsung heroes of this process, the Ground Handling Agent is the person responsible for a host of activities at the airport which keep things running seamlessly and allow overseas travel to take place. Here’s the lowdown on a day in the life of our Ground Handling Agents, and some of the safety risks which they have to overcome in their role…

Ground handlers, also known as ground handling staff, are teams employed by airlines and airports, responsible for a range of tasks required to ensure that planes are ready and safe to take flight. One of the key aspects of this process is the need to load and unload luggage and freight items, often working under pressure to tight timescales, and handling potentially hazardous, heavy and delicate cargo.

Keeping the UK’s luggage moving

This is extremely manual and taxing work, which requires a correct approach to moving and handling to avoid workplace injury. Handlers are required to follow stringent method statements to keep them safe, while managing the huge amount of cargo. As an example, Heathrow estimates that around 53 million pieces of luggage are transported via plane each year – that’s a significant amount of moving and handling for the Grounds team.

Using a range of equipment

Ground Handlers are responsible for using a range of equipment designed for the safe handling of materials. Conveyor belts, forklifts and freight delivery vehicles all play a part in keeping things moving along smoothly. Most Ground Handlers are skilled drivers, navigating the runways safely to transport cargo to and from planes.

Keeping passengers safe

Ground Handlers are also responsible for the safety of passengers, when they board the plane or disembark. This includes setting up ramps and staircases, and guiding passengers with mobility challenges to ensure that they are able to get around in safety.

Fuelling the plane

Ground Handlers ensure that the plane has precisely the right amount of fuel to undertake each journey. Anyone who has taken a flight will have seen the fuelling machines used, and possibly observed the process as it has been undertaken. As with any combustible substance, fuel presents a number of hazards which operatives navigate to keep passengers and staff safe.

Keeping the plane pristine

Grounds Handlers are responsible for upholding the maintenance and appearance of the plane’s exterior, which includes cleaning the surface, de-icing where necessary and keeping the windows clean and clear. They also often undertake mechanical and electrical repairs to aircraft. All of these processes involve a degree of risk, requiring Handlers to observe strict health and safety protocols.

The demands and risks associated with Ground Handling professions mean that high-quality, durable and compliant PPE and workwear is a critical element of the broader organisational Health & Safety strategy. Because SMI concentrate our procurement and production to serve eight core sectors, we have been able to create a tailored portfolio of products to meet Ground Handling team’s unique safety needs. Head over to our catalogue, to browse our products and choose your ideal PPE and workwear items.