Jobs performed by workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are often hazardous. Common work activities include light manufacturing, recycling, assembly, janitorial tasks, industrial laundries, landscaping services, and warehouse work, according to to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Almost all of these activities have higher than average rates of injury, but workers with IDD often have even fewer options for health and training.
According to to the NIOSH, the rate of workplace injury among employees in vocational rehabilitation programs is more than 60% higher than that of injured workers as a whole. In fact, out of every 100 workers in these settings, 5.5 workers get injured on the job as compared to 3.2 out of 100 workers who get injured on the job in general work settings.1 Despite these statistics, a needs assessment conducted in 2006 by the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at the University of California, Berkeley found almost no examples of comprehensive health and safety training being provided to workers with IDD.2
A new curriculum published by LOHP with support from NIOSH addresses the shortage of occupational health and safety training for workers with IDD. The Staying Safe at Work curriculum is a six-lesson training program designed to teach basic occupational safety and health knowledge and skills to young and older workers, and students with disabilities.
Designed for use by employment agencies, community vocational rehabilitation programs, high-school transition programs, and other organizations and companies that place in jobs or hire workers with disabilities, the curriculum can help teach students or consumers/employees the foundational job safety and health skills that all workers need. The curriculum uses highly interactive and fun learning activities to teach workplace safety and health skills, which are general, transferable, and can apply across all jobs and industries.
Staying Safe at Work: A Curriculum for Teaching Workers with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities about Health and Safety on the Job is available for download here.
- TABLE SNR05. Incidence rate1 and number of nonfatal occupational injuries by industry and ownership, 2014. Accessed July 28, 2016.
- Dewey, R, Promoting the Health and Safety of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employed in Mainstream Settings: Report and Recommendations to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.