Do employers need to have additional safety concerns for employees with disabilities?
Employers should have the same general safety concerns for employees with and without disabilities. Since safety considerations in the workplace can be affected by an employee's accommodation needs, an employer must evaluate their safety policies carefully. For instance, someone who is deaf may not hear alarms, one who is totally blind may not be able to perceive flashing lights, and some individuals with mobility impairments cannot use stairs when elevators are out of service.
Employers need to take access issues into consideration when developing safety plans and when bringing on new employees with disabilities. Employees may need safety procedure information in alternate/accessible formats. Being mindful of disability-related facility issues can enhance safety for all workers. For example, taking care to remove obstacles from walkways protects not only a worker with a disability but also any worker who happens not to be paying attention.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides information related to employees with disabilities. They cover a wide range of workplace safety and health issues, including containment of pathogens and hazardous materials, mechanical hazards, and threats to reproductive health.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration has publications on disaster preparedness for people with disabilities and those who might be in a position to assist them.
The Job Accommodations Network has information on developing facility evacuation plans that take employees with disabilities into consideration.
DisabilityResources.org includes links to resources that deal with safety concerns and people with disabilities.
Last update or review: January 18, 2013