WORKERS WITH INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
Workers with developmental disabilities are an underserved group that has rarely been the focus of workplace health and safety outreach efforts.
Disabilities are not diseases. The term developmental disabilities describes conditions that interrupt natural brain development; these conditions often begin in childhood and last throughout life. The term intellectual disabilities describes conditions that begin before the age of 18 and can be caused by injury, disease or other problems in the brain. In both cases, these disabilities can affect a person's ability to speak, learn, and live independently.
Though people who have an intellectual or developmental disability face challenges, they work hard to support themselves and their families. One source of employment for workers with intellectual or developmental disabilities has been sheltered workshop settings in which workers have extra support and supervision. More recently, efforts have focused on integrating workers with a disability into mainstream jobs rather than placing them in sheltered employment. However, the job duties in both sheltered workshops and mainstream employment can be hazardous. Often these jobs include warehouse work, assembly, recycling, light manufacturing, janitorial work, and grounds work. Some of the hazards associated with these jobs include:
- working with sharp tools or machines that have moving parts
- doing the same movement over and over
- lifting heavy objects
- working with chemicals
These are hazards that all workers in such work environments would be subjected to; however, a person with an intellectual or developmental disability may be at a higher risk of injury if they are not trained properly.
This topic page provides links to general and state-specific resources that may be helpful in providing a safe and healthy workplace for workers who have an intellectual or developmental disability.
For more on the topic of workplace safety among workers with disabilities, please visit:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- New Hours of Operation
- Contact CDC-INFO