Delta reaches OSHA settlement in bag handler's death

Delta Air Lines has agreed to install seat belts on airport vehicles under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, following the August 2010 death of a baggage tug vehicle driver who was ejected from his vehicle and was not wearing a seat belt.

Atlanta-based Delta said in a memo to employees that many of its vehicles currently do not have seat belts, and that it averages 14 ejections per year, with half resulting in "serious employee injury." In 2010, two Delta employees died in different incidents after being ejected from baggage tugs.

The agency said Delta violated a federal regulation that requires employers to provide employees with personal protective equipment, which in this case means seat belts. In the settlement, Delta agreed to pay an $8,500 penalty and install seat belts in vehicles that don't have them, train employees to use the seat belts, enforce the requirement and report results of a monitoring program back to OSHA.

The settlement covers 16,000 Delta employees, 6,000 baggage handling vehicles and Delta operations at 90 airports. Delta said it will extend the requirement to all employees and to international operations.

OSHA said it also sent a hazard alert letter to airlines across the nation reminding them of the seat belt requirement.