Disabled Workers Experience Higher Rates of Occupational Injuries

Employees with disabilities are significantly more likely to experience injuries – whether work-related or not – than workers without disabilities, according to a new study.

Employees with disabilities are injured on the job at a rate that is nearly three times what non-disabled workers face, according to researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University.

Annually, the occupational injury rate for disabled U.S. workers is 6.0 per 100 workers, compared to 2.3 per 100 non-disabled employees. Rates of non-occupational injuries were 16.4 per 100 disabled workers compared to 6.4 for employees without disabilities.

“The increase in occupational injuries to workers with disabilities found in our study shows the need for better accommodation and safety programs in the workplace and the need for a safer working environment,” said the study’s co-author Huiyun Xiang, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy and an associate professor of the Division of Epidemiology at The Ohio State University College of Public Health.

Falls and transportation-related injuries led the causes of injury among disabled workers in the United States. This finding, according to researchers, suggests that improving the safety of the working environment will help not only to reduce the occurrence of fall- and transportation-related injuries among workers with disabilities, but also would benefit those without disabilities.

“Outreach programs that teach U.S. workers with disabilities occupational safety and health skills could play a significant role in preventing injuries,” Xiang concluded.

Data for this study were obtained from the 2006-2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) which used computer-assisted personal interviews to collect data about medically treated injuries that occurred during the three months prior to the interview.

The study appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

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