Injury-prevention & safety data

Teams across United work continually to identify and elevate attention to safety risks related to employee injuries. Capturing, acting on and reporting performance data is an important part of constant improvement.

Turbulence injury mitigation

United conducted an industry-leading, Line Operations Safety Audit program (LOSA) in Flight Operations. The program’s purpose is to gain better insight into turbulence risks, examine how turbulence information is provided by Flight Dispatchers at United’s Global Network Operations Center to pilots during flight and subsequently evaluate how such information is communicated to flight attendants and passengers.

The multi-year effort utilized off-duty crew members to observe and collect data during selected flights. Data was collected about the tools pilots used for turbulence forecasts and avoidance to determine which tools are the most effective in identifying potential turbulence threats.

Based on thorough observations and analysis, the following policy changes were made:

From observation to action

  • Enhanced communication between the flight deck and the cabin crew.
    • Incorporating a specific time for flight attendants to take their jumpseats when turbulence is imminent.
    • Addition of a pre-service briefing for long-haul flights, to be accomplished before bringing carts into the aisle
  • Defining clear expectations to ensure flight attendants are seated by the time the aircraft descends to 10,000 ft.

To help measure the effectiveness of these changes, line pilots are continually conducting safety observations from the flight deck jumpseat.

To further our innovative approach to evaluating turbulence and aircraft data, we have formed an analytical working group to leverage the latest in data science to derive new business insights and establish new predictive tools to mitigate the operational risks and impacts associated with atmospheric turbulence. United will be better equipped to continue monitoring and making data-driven decisions and better-informed policy changes related to turbulence.

Injury reduction

We are not alone in seeking solutions to reduce workplace injuries. Close partnerships and best practice sharing is a must in our industry, as it renders safer environments that benefit employees across many organizations.

Over 40% of reported workplace injuries are due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). That’s why we have partnered with the National Safety Council (NSC) to join other organizations in signing a pledge that boosts our commitment to improving workplace safety and reducing MSDs by 25% by 2025. In 2023, United received the MSD Solutions Index Badge, recognizing United’s dedication to lowering MSD risks in the workplace, our commitment to creating a safe and healthy work environment and our willingness to be held responsible for our safety commitments.

In 2023, we reduced our severe injuries by 7.2% as a result of a robust transitional duty program and a 4% reduction in severe ergonomic injuries compared to 2022. To keep the momentum going, for 2024, we are working to reduce injuries even further through ergonomic risk assessments, innovation and training.

We also instituted a mandatory bump cap requirement for aircraft maintenance employees who work under open engine cowls and thrust reversers. Since the requirement has been in place, reports of head bump injuries have decreased by 71%.

As we continue to build a stronger safety culture, we are relentless in emphasizing the criticality of following standard operating procedures and reporting safety concerns, so they are handled expeditiously.

OSHA recordable injury rate

OSHA injury rates from 2021 to 2023

  • 2023: 4.39
  • 2022: 4.58
  • 2021: 4.53