Spotlight on r2p

New Curriculum to Reduce Injuries for Workers with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The rate of workplace injury among employees in vocational rehabilitation programs is more than 60 percent higher than that of injured workers as a whole, notes the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Intent on changing this figure, NIOSH recently adopted and helped update Staying Safe at Work, an innovative curriculum designed for workers and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) that was originally developed by the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) in 2009.

Similar to other LOHP programs, the curriculum teaches workers how to identify and control workplace hazards, their rights and responsibilities, emergency preparedness, and how to confidently speak up when there is a problem. “What is unique about this curriculum is that it teaches these skills in a manner that is more accessible to our intended audience. Therefore, the activities do not depend on the ability to read and break down concepts into small bits. They are presented concretely and provide the opportunity to practice these skills,” says LOHP Coordinator Robin Dewey.

Dewey’s commitment to workers with IDD spans more than a decade. In 2006, she completed a needs assessment project funded by NIOSH that concluded few examples exist of health and safety training for workers with IDD. “Workers with developmental disabilities are truly a hidden, underserved working population and are almost never included in targeted outreach and education activities,” found the report. Recommendations called for the development of a new training curriculum to address this gap.

Staying Safe at Work assists employment support agencies that receive federal or state funding to help adults with IDD find and keep jobs in the community – a group that will have an increased interest in the training following the US Department of Labor’s recent initiative, Employment First, “which is centered on the premise that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life.” It will also benefit community rehabilitation programs that employ individuals with IDD. These include organizations such as PRIDE Industries, Easter Seals, and Goodwill, among others, in addition to high school transition programs that prepare students with IDD for further education and employment.

The six lesson curriculum was recently revised in partnership with NIOSH and now is housed on NIOSH’s website. To learn more, visit NIOSH at See also their blog:

Download the curriculum.

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