Safety in Action

Every action we take is geared toward keeping our employees, customers and assets safe. The key to our success is building the best teams in the sector.

Leaders and operational teams across the company work hand-in-hand collaborating, sharing insight and continually looking for ways to improve and run a safe operation.

Safety excellence program

We have a well-established internal program that recognizes United airport and non-airport locations that implement exceptional safety performance and exhibit the highest commitment to employee safety and health.

At the core, the program rallies us toward higher safety standards that build on a safety culture where people look out for one another and aspire to do the right thing.

The program is tiered-based and composed of three certification levels - Silver, Gold and Platinum. The higher the level – the higher the safety goals and improvement measurements. Several factors are reviewed and measured:

  • Leadership and employee engagement
  • Safety promotion and training
  • Hazard prevention and controls
  • Worksite analysis

The numbers of certifications continue to grow each year. To date, we have 133 workgroups across 87 locations that have received certification.

After reaching the top-tier of Safety Excellence, the ultimate goal for our locations is to reach one of the highest worksite ratings known as VPP Star (Voluntary Protection Programs) – an external certification program established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. Our Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) location was recognized with this certification in 2018 and is still going strong, as the station achieved recertification in 2022. United’s IAD location is one of 36 active VPP Star certified sites in the Commonwealth of Virginia. To achieve and maintain this esteemed recognition requires consistent engagement and constant safety improvements. IAD has made advancements in lightning detection and mapping by equipping the station with systems that are more accurate and offer automatic alerting.

Turbulence injury mitigation

United conducted an industry-leading study amongs pilots and flight attendants in an effort to gain better insight into turbulence risks. The study was a multiple year effort using off-duty crew members to observe and collect data during selected flights. The basis of the study examined how turbulence information is provided by Flight Dispatchers at United’s Global Network Operations Center in Chicago to pilots during flight that is subsequently communicated to flight attendants and passengers. The study collected data on the tools pilots use for turbulence forecasts and avoidance to determine which tools are the most effective in identifying potential turbulence threats. United has been strong in investing in technology to improve turbulence information for pilots.

Additionally, we looked at the effectiveness of current turbulence related policies and procedures used by crew members to keep passengers and employees safe. As an example, during periods of forecasted or actual moderate turbulence, United requires pilots to notify flight attendants to be seated over the passenger address (PA) system. By making a PA announcement, all flight attendants hear the same message so they know to be seated. This message also indicates to passengers that flight attendants are being seated for their safety and prompts passengers to do the same. Overall, the data showed an opportunity to reinforce procedures through training for consistent application and effectiveness.

This initiative was instrumental in providing insights to the inter-crew communication process and so that we can make improvements when communicating critical turbulence information. Evaluating the data will allow us to reduce turbulence-related injuries by improving briefings between crew members and sitting flight attendants earlier for their safety prior to landing.