197080 Meeting the occupational safety and health needs of individuals with disabilities employed in sheltered workshops

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:30 AM

Robin Dewey, MPH , Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Thousands of individuals with severe disabilities are employed in segregated sheltered workshops in the U.S. These sheltered workshops are community-based non-profit agencies (NPAs) that provide services, such as life skills training, as well as employment opportunities to individuals for whom mainstream employment might be difficult to secure. Many of these NPAs contract with government agencies and private companies to provide services, such as janitorial work, and/or to manufacture or assemble products. Due to the hazardous nature of the work being performed by these NPAs, the injury rate in sheltered workshops is nearly twice the rate for private industry in general. This presentation will describe an exciting new project designed to address the high injury rate among this special population of workers and to meet the specific needs of this underserved group of workplaces. An essential component of the project has been a strong partnership with a national organization that assists, monitors and provides training to many NPAs that offer sheltered employment in the country -- NISH (National Industries for the Severely Handicapped). The project has included a survey to assess the baseline health and safety knowledge and needs of NPAs; conducting health and safety training for NPA supervisors; providing a basic health and safety curriculum for use in teaching their employees with cognitive and learning disabilities; and finally, working with NISH staff members to increase their ability to help their member NPAs create safe working environments for individuals with severe disabilities. Other training options will be included in my handouts.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the occupational health and safety needs and concerns of non-profit agencies that employ workers with developmental disabilities in the United States, based on the results of a recent needs assessment. Describe efforts to promote occupational safety and health skills and training through a partnership with a national organization serving the sheltered workplaces that hire individuals with disabilities. Promote training that utilizes participatory learning activities specifically designed to meet the cognitive needs of workers with developmental disabilities.

Keywords: Disability, Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the coordinator of the described project as well as the lead author of the described curriculum and training program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.