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Aviation: Baggage

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether his Department has had discussions with its international counterparts on the weight of bags in transit through UK airports. (316113)

Primary responsibility for occupational safety matters rests with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Bag weight is only one factor in the risks associated with manual handling and HSE works with European counterparts through the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work to mitigate these risks. In 2007, Labour Inspectorates in the EU launched an inspection and communication campaign to prevent lower back disorders, targeting the transport and healthcare sectors.

HSE also collaborates on reducing manual handling risk with the International Air Transport Association and other international aviation health and safety groups such as the International Aviation Handlers Association and the US based ARTEX group.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what response he has made to the Health and Safety Executive's recommendation of a 23kg maximum weight for an item of checked baggage. (316114)

The recommendation for a 23 kilo bag weight limit is from International Air Transport Association (IATA) and is supported by HSE as one aspect of industry risk reduction measures. Weight is only one factor in manual handling risk and HSE has worked with the industry and IATA to introduce, first, a recommended 32 kilo bag weight limit, then, in 2009, a recommended 23 kilo limit.

To ask the Minister of State, Department or Transport what recent discussions he has had with representatives of baggage handlers at Heathrow Airport on the effects of their jobs on their health. (316111)

I met representatives of Unite the Union on 21 July last year to discuss their ‘Lighten Up’ campaign about the effects of aircraft baggage weights on the health of their members. This followed a meeting between the Secretary of State for Transport and Unite on 27 April 2009 at which the health and safety of baggage handlers was discussed. In addition, I addressed the Unite sectoral conference on aviation on this and other matters on 23 November 2009.