New Curriculum Helps Workers with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Learn How to Stay Safe on the JobPosted on by
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California, Berkeley recently published a curriculum to help workers who have and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) learn how to stay safe while they do their jobs. The Staying Safe at Work curriculum fills an important need for general training in workplace safety for workers with IDD.
Employees in community rehabilitation programs are injured at a rate more than 60% higher than U.S. workers as a whole. Out of every 1,000 workers in these settings, 55 workers are injured on the job, compared with 32 out of 1,000 workers who get injured on the job in general work settings.1 Jobs performed in sheltered settings and by workers with IDD in general can be hazardous. Common work activities include light manufacturing, recycling, assembly, janitorial tasks, industrial laundries, landscaping services, and warehouse work. Almost all of these activities have higher-than-average injury rates.
Most U.S. workers lack health and safety training, but workers with IDD often have even fewer options for this training, particularly in a manner that meets their learning needs. A needs assessment conducted in 2006 by the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley found almost no examples of these workers getting comprehensive health and safety training.2 When training does take place, it is typically a supervisor or job coach instructing what to do or not do with regard to a particular activity. Although this kind of instruction is important, it does not teach workers the skills they need to assess new environments and to problem-solve when the situation or task changes, or when something unexpected happens. Workers need to learn and practice these skills in a safe environment where the instructor can teach them, and then they can learn from one another.
One reason for the shortage of workplace health and safety training for workers with IDD has been the lack of a tailored curriculum for schools, support agencies, and employers. The Staying Safe at Work curriculum helps bridge this gap. Staying Safe at Work is a free six-lesson training program that teaches basic workplace safety and health knowledge and skills to young and older workers with IDD and students with disabilities. The six lessons include: Introduction to Workplace Health and Safety; Looking for Job Hazards; Making the Job Safer; Staying Safe in an Emergency at Work; Your Health and Safety Rights and Responsibilities on the Job; and Speaking Up When There Is a Problem.
The curriculum can be used by supported employment agencies, community vocational rehabilitation programs, high school transition programs, and other organizations and companies that place or hire workers with IDD. The curriculum can help teach students or /employees the basic 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.
Click here to access the full curriculum and the PowerPoint slides.
If you hire, place or work with individuals with IDD we would like to hear from you. How have you approached workplace safety and health training for workers with IDD?
Robin Dewey, MPH, is coordinator of Public Programs, Labor Occupational Health Program, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.
Rebecca Guerin, MA, is coordinator of the NIOSH Safe-Skilled-Ready Workforce Program.
Andrea Okun, DrPH, is co-coordinator of the NIOSH Safe-Skilled-Ready Workforce Program.
- BLS . Table SNR05. Incidence rate and number of nonfatal occupational injuries by industry and ownership, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/ostb4351.pdf. 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). Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.