Examining occupational health and safety vulnerability among Canadian workers with disabilities
Objective: To compare workers with and without disabilities on their reported workplace hazard exposure and the presence of occupational health and safety vulnerability factors.
Methods: Working-aged adults in Ontario or British Columbia were recruited to participate in a cross-sectional survey (n = 1988). Self-reported measures included demographic factors, work-related variables, perceived level of activity limitation at work, and presence of work safety vulnerability factors utilizing a novel framework.
Results: Reporting a disability at work was significantly associated with greater hazard exposure than those without a disability. In addition, those reporting a disability at work were more likely to be employed in conditions where hazard exposure was combined with inadequate policies and procedures, or hazard exposures were combined with inadequate empowerment.
Conclusions: Work safety vulnerability is one way that health inequalities can be perpetuated even among those with disabilities who have found work. Our results suggest that employers and policy makers need to focus on assessing and addressing hazard exposures and targeting occupational health and safety resources in the workplace in a way that includes workers with disabilities.
- Implications for Rehabilitation
- Workers with disabilities experience greater hazard exposure than those without a disability.
- Those with moderate and severe disabilities reported occupational health and safety vulnerability, suggesting that workplace accommodations should be available to a broader range of disability levels.
- It appears that, above and beyond standard safety procedures, providing workplace accommodations for people with disabilities may further reduce their hazard exposure and improve their safety.