“The policy announced today with the FAA will not only enhance the health and safety of flight attendants by connecting them directly with OSHA, but will by extension improve the flying experience of millions of airline passengers,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis added.
The FAA said the development of OSHA safety standards for flight crews was part of the $63 billion funding bill for the agency that was passed by lawmakers at the beginning of 2012. The bill, which was dubbed the "the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012," included a host of changes Congress instructed the FAA to make in exchange for its budget appropriation.
The union for flight attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, called the FAA's announcement historic Friday.
"We made history today," the union's leadership wrote in a letter to its members. "Four decades after OSHA was created and safety and health protections were extended to the workplace of most Americans, we have finally achieved OSHA protections for Flight Attendants in the aircraft cabin."
The AFA said it had pursued the inclusion of its members in OSHA protections "for decades."
"In 1975, the FAA claimed exclusive jurisdiction over workplace safety and health for all crewmembers, preventing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — the agency that regulates the safety and health of most U.S. workers — from protecting flight attendants and other crewmembers while working on-board commercial airline flights," the AFA letter said.
But now, the union said, flight attendants will receive "many of the safety and health standards we already have in our workplaces outside the aircraft cabin."
—This post was updated with new information at 1:34 p.m.