Safety for Workers with Intellectual Developmental Difficulties


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California, Berkeley, recently published a curriculum to help workers who have Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (IDD) learn how to stay safe while they do their jobs. The Staying Safe at Work curriculum fills an important need for general training in workplace safety for workers with IDD.

Employees in community rehabilitation programs are injured at a rate more than 60% higher than U.S. workers as a whole. Out of every 1,000 workers in these settings, 55 workers are injured on the job, compared with 32 out of 1,000 workers who get injured on the job in general work settings.1

Jobs performed in sheltered settings and by workers with IDD in general can be hazardous. Common work activities include light manufacturing, recycling, assembly, janitorial tasks, industrial laundries, landscaping services, and warehouse work. Almost all of these activities have higher-than-average injury rates.

One reason for the shortage of workplace health and safety training for workers with IDD has been the lack of a tailored curriculum for schools, support agencies, and employers. The Staying Safe at Work curriculum helps bridge this gap.

Staying Safe at Work is a free six-lesson training program that teaches basic workplace safety and health knowledge and skills to young and older workers with IDD and students with disabilities. The six lessons include:  Introduction to Workplace Health and Safety; Looking for Job Hazards; Making the Job Safer; Staying Safe in an Emergency at Work; Your Health and Safety Rights and Responsibilities on the Job; and Speaking Up When There Is a Problem.