Flight attendant job itself is considered as a high risk job so yes there are number of risks involved.
- Most of the flight attendant have minor or major injuries which can be caused by various factors like turbulence. At times we are informed in advance and are aware about it (moderate to severe) and it’s on our own discretion when to stop the service and secure ourselves but sometimes it’s just sudden (clear air turbulence) and have no information and control over anything which gets very dangerous. I have had a minor knee injury due to severe turbulence
- Injuries also happen with handling of passengers bags. Most of the flight attendant I fly with have wrist or back injury which has happened due to stowage of passengers bags in the overhead compartment. Due to this, most of the airlines in the world disallow flight attendants to handle any of the bags for passengers. We do not even get coverage for insurance in this case since it’s a company policy not to handle passengers bags and only doing so as at our own risk.
- Most of equipment on board are extremely heavy like the food carts or the compartments. Pulling and pushing them day in and day out easily gets wrist and shoulder injury if not done in a correct manner
- My airline has regular drills and a mandatory training once a year to help crew be more informed with occupational health and safety.
A very high risk is involved with outbreak of any contamination, infection, diseases or flu around the world. With number of passengers flying from different countries and continents and also the flight attendant flying to various destinations it is easy for the crew to be contaminated with any of these diseases. I remember in 2002/3 there was outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong and it got extremely difficult to fly to anywhere where the airlines were operating with 1 or none passenger and death toll was extremely high.
Handling intoxicated and unruly passengers or even passengers who possess threat to any crew member or endager safety of the aircraft. Such instances are rare and most of the time we don’t come across such situations but we do hear it happening and it’s one of the most difficult situations to handle which possess high risk. Passengers at times do get physical with the crew (though we are trained to handle such situations but talking about risk then it’s high risk involved especially up in the air)
The major and most risky is an evacuation of the passengers from the aircraft. It’s once in a lifetime situation but this is what we are there for and let’s not talk about it because we all know what kind of risks are involved in it.
Besides these there is always risk of exposure to high radiation, deep vein thrombosis, increased high risk of cancer and lung damage due to breathing of polluted air.
So the flight attendant job is not glamorous but one of the most unhealthiest and risky jobs in the world.