Airport Workers Say Wheelchairs Are Contaminated with Feces, Urine, Vomit, Blood, and They Don't Know How to Clean Them

Are airport wheelchairs gross informal laboratories for nasty bodily fluids and festering bacteria? And if so, whose fault is it?

Airport workers at Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport who are assigned to push passengers in wheelchairs said in a statement Thursday that they often deal with passengers "bleeding, vomiting, urinating and even defecating while they take them to and from aircrafts" and that they don't know how to clean the wheelchairs.

A press release issued by the Service Employees International Union quotes Jean Benjamin, an employee of Superior Aircraft employee, as saying, "They urinate and vomit on the wheelchair. Others sometimes, they have sores on their legs. I get no protective equipment like gloves or masks or anything from the company. I also don't get anything to clean the chair. I am not aware of any procedures in place to clean the wheelchairs."

Workers with the companies Superior, DAS and Bags, who are hired by JetBlue, Spirit, Delta, and others, said that they are filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They were not trained properly and were not equipped with protective gear, they say.

But it's not clear they ever asked for such gear or cleaning supplies. The release quotes an employee named Assade Verdrine, who is said to work for Bags, as saying, "Passengers sometimes urinate on themselves and vomited too. I work without protective equipment such as gloves, mask, etc. I have not asked for them because I see that none of my co-workers receive them. My employer does not provide anything to clean the chairs I am also not aware of any procedures to clean the chair."

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