Other changes in regulatory arrangements
2.12. The regulatory framework for occupational
and passenger health has continued to develop in recent years.
In 2004 the Civil Aviation (Working Time) Regulations
were passed, implementing the provisions of Council Directive
2000/79/EC concerning the European Agreement on the Organisation
of Working Time of Mobile Workers in Civil Aviation. They state
the maximum working hours for aircrew and regulate rest periods
and working patterns. These regulations also assign responsibilities
to the CAA for regulating occupational health and safety on board
2.13. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations
2005 came into force
in 2006 to implement the European Directive 2003/10/EC Physical
Agents (Noise) Directive. The Directive was designed to protect
employees from exposure to noise at work and includes aircrew.
The Government also set up the Aviation Occupational Health and
Safety Working Group to look at certain aspects of crew health
and safety in the cabin environment. The group is chaired by the
CAA with membership drawn from airline unions.
2.14. The CAA continues to review its responsibilities
in the field of occupational health. As recently as August 2007
it published Civil Aviation Publication (CAP) 757, a guide
on "Occupational Health and Safety on-board an Aircraft"
aimed at aircraft operators and others involved in the operation
of aircraft. We welcome this guide, which covers such areas as
manual handling, burns, trips and falls and biohazards. However,
we note that CAP 757 does not mention fume events or chemical
exposure (issues which are certainly regarded in some quarters
as fundamental to occupational health in the air). We return to
this issue in Chapter 4.
2.15. At the same time as developing its guidance
on occupational health, the CAA has engaged in dialogue with the
HSE, with a view to clarifying possible overlaps in the regulatory
responsibilities of the two bodies. In 1999 a Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) was drawn up by the HSE and the CAA to provide clarity between
the separate disciplines of regulating aircraft safety and the
regulation of occupational health and safety. In March 2005 "Annex
8" to the existing MoU was published, with agreed guidelines
setting out their respective responsibilities for enforcing occupational
health and safety in relation to public transport aircraft while
on the ground and in the air.
2.16. In broad terms the HSE is responsible for
regulating the health and safety of "all work activities
on and around an aircraft on the ground" including the health
and safety of crew members while outside the aircraft. Meanwhile
the CAA is responsible for the regulation of health and safety
of crew members while they are on board an aircraft. What remains
unclear is who has responsibility for the health and safety of
passengers on board an aircraftthe issue raised by the
Work-related Death Advice Service. The HSE is responsible while
the aircraft is "on the ground with the doors open, or the
aircraft is manoeuvring or being manoeuvred on the ground without
the intention of flight". It may be inferred that the CAA
is responsible for the health and safety of passengers while on
board an aircraft but neither the MoU nor Annex 8 says so specifically.
2.17. We welcome the establishment of the
AHU within the CAA. However, we recommend that the AHU and the
CAA work together with Government departments and the aviation
industry in raising the profile of its work so that it becomes
the focus for airlines, passengers and health care professionals
in their quest for information on aviation health matters. The
AHU should become the body responsible for handling queries and
complaints from passengers on health issues and should publish
guidelines on how those queries will be handled.
2.18. We agree with the House of Commons Transport
Committee that the United Kingdom cannot and must not transfer
any further responsibilities from the CAA to EASA until it is
clear that EASA is competent to exercise such responsibilities.
We recommend that the Government make the strongest possible representations
to the European Commission and EASA that the high priority afforded
to aviation health in the United Kingdom as a result of the work
of the AHWG, the CAA and the AHU must be replicated within EASA.
2.19. We applaud the Government for having
taken the steps necessary to make aviation health a priority.
The United Kingdom has always been at the forefront in aviation
issues and our regulatory arrangements continue to be seen as
a model by other countries. However, we recommend:
- that the Memorandum of Understanding
between the HSE and the CAA, and in particular its Annex 8, should
spell out who has specific responsibilities for the health and
safety of passengers;
- that the HSE and CAA review the interpretation
of "occupational health" as it applies to air crew,
to ensure that emerging health issues are adequately reflected
in regulatory arrangements.