Case Studies
Globus improves safety and wearer acceptance for American Airlines
8th November 2023

American Airlines serves 250 cities in over 50 countries flying an average of 3300 flights a day. In the UK, American Airlines operates flights from London Heathrow and Manchester, serving seven US cities.

The Situation

At Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, baggage handlers work in two main locations; inside the Terminal at check-in and airside. Regarding hand protection, American Airlines had been using leather, heavy-duty rigger gloves and poor-quality nitrile gloves which typically tore within a few days of use.

American Airlines wanted to phase out their existing leather rigger gloves. Statistics prove that if a hand is crushed inside a rigger glove, the injuries can actually be worse because of the stitching across the hand inside the glove. In addition, rigger gloves are loose on the hand so do not fit properly, so additional injuries can be sustained.

A Health and Safety Officer for American Airlines said, “The wearing of safety gloves is not a mandatory requirement but we actively encourage their use. We were looking for a good product and one that the workers would like and therefore wear. In that regard, if they like it, they’ll wear it, it’s as simple as that.”

The Solution

Risk assessment

American Airlines examined all applications with hazards facing its Baggage Handlers, Loaders and Drivers, where gloves could be used to reduce risk. In total, 27 risk assessments were conducted.

Potential hazards to the hand include sharp aluminium parts on bag containers, zips and locks from bags and heavy-duty pins on the dollies that are attached to the small tugs that take the bags to the plane. “Even small injuries from minor accidents like slips and falls on the aircraft apron can be massively reduced through the wearing of gloves.” A Health and Safety Officer for American Airlines explains.

The driving and servicing of loading equipment also had to be risk assessed, as did the locks and stops inside the aircraft. These are able to move around, like a train system inside the belly of the aircraft, leading to the additional possibility of hand injuries inside the craft.

Globus organised site visits and conducted surveys assessing the various applications. A Globus Account Manager then provided a tailored hand protection proposal to precisely meet the needs of American Airlines.

Extensive trials followed and the results of these reported that the new Showa Best and Skytec gloves were far superior to those used previously.

Handling the handlers

Having found the right gloves, the next important step was to communicate with the workforce. The Globus Account Manager assisted and delivered ‘Toolbox Talks’ and bespoke training. Selection Chart posters were also provided and placed in the baggage rest areas.


The consensus was that the new gloves from Globus gave superior all-round performance. In addition to achieving excellent grip in dry and wet conditions, other reported improvements included; dexterity, flexibility, comfort, fit, cut-protection, protection from heat, cold and liquids. Overall they provide better hand protection than any gloves used previously.

The Baggage Handlers and Loaders use the lightweight Skytec Ohio, Showa 330 and thermal Showa 451 for more heavy-duty applications such as connecting tow bars from the front of the aircraft up to tugs (the vehicles that push the aircraft back). Also of particular note is the luminous yellow Showa 317 which makes it easier for the workers to see their hands when they work on the ramp at night.

The Benefits

Safety observations made by line managers and crew chiefs demonstrate that safety has been improved. More people are using gloves than before - ninety per cent of the Baggage Handlers are wearing gloves from Globus throughout their entire eight-hour shifts.

Fewer gloves are now being collected from the uniform stores too because they are simply lasting longer.

  • More handlers are wearing gloves
  • Costs are being driven down
  • Safety has improved – with over 30% reduction in lost time accidents (over 12 months) across the departments at American Airlines Heathrow
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced wastage
  • Reduced stockholding

“It’s a win-win situation. As far as PPE is concerned, Globus is the best company I've ever worked with because they; care about what they do, care about protecting our staff and go to a lot of trouble to help us.”  - A Health and Safety Officer, at American Airlines

Download the case study, here.

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