The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
The Atlanta Police Department’s accident investigations unit responded to the incident and said no charges are expected at this point. APD did not release the name of the victim.
The man worked for contractor G2 Secure Staff LLC, which issued a statement saying it “is devastated by the death of an employee at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport earlier this week.”
The company said it is working with authorities to investigate the incident.
“Our hearts go out to his family and our primary focus at this time is to support them and his Atlanta-based colleagues,” said G2 CEO Daniel Norman in a written statement.
United Airlines said it is reviewing the details of the incident to understand what happened.
The American Association of Airport Executives has held ramp safety workshops. Its description of the workshop says ramp safety is a significant concern in the aviation industry, and "workers can face a variety of safety concerns and hazards on ramps that, in most cases, are unregulated."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office conducted a study of ramp safety in 2007. It found that OSHA investigated 29 fatal ramp accidents from 2001 through 2006, and the majority of those fatalities were ramp workers. The fatalities generally occurred when workers were struck by vehicles or other objects, were crushed, or fell.
The GAO report said ground handling companies may serve multiple airlines at an airport and must follow the policies and procedures of each airline. That “could lead to confusion about operating procedures and safety rules and increases the likelihood of accidents,” the report states.
The GAO report also cited one expert who said there is a connection between ramp accidents and airline management's demand to keep flights departing on time with quick turnarounds, and noted a report that points to inadequate training and high turnover as contributing factors in ramp accidents.
Hartsfield-Jackson officials said in a statement: “While incidents like what took this place this week are rare, we are committed to working with all our airline partners and their contractors to make sure that corrective actions are taken to prevent something like this from happening again.”