Failure to make workplaces fully safe and accessible may be behind recent findings that workers with disabilities are injured almost twice as often as other workers. A study that appears in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health concludes that improvements to workplace conditions could help disabled workers avoid injuries.
The researchers looked at the U.S. National Health Interview Survey spanning 2006 to 2010 and uncovered a pattern of unnecessary and increased injuries for disabled workers. They found that disabled workers are more likely to be injured from falls or transportation accidents. They also more likely to be injured in accidents not directly related to work activities.
Disabled workers were injured in work activities at the rate of about 6 in 100, compared with a rate of 2.3 for every 100 workers without disabilities. Disabled workers also were injured in accidents not tied to job activities at the rate of 16 in 100, more than twice the rate for other workers.
Need for Safety Programs
Dr. Huiyun Xiang, the study’s co-author and a principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a press release that the study “shows the need for better accommodation and safety programs in the workplace and the need for a safer working environment.” Improvements in workplace conditions and better communication could not only help prevent injuries for workers with disabilities, but also could improve safety for all workers, the study’s authors say.
Employers may not be doing everything they can to make sure messages about safety are clear and understandable for all workers. Workers with disabilities may need different efforts, like differently colored paper or ink, Braille lettering or verbal communication.