Not yet on the radar

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One of Associate Editor Lauretta Claussen’s features this month takes a look at workers with intellectual disabilities and what safety professionals can do to help ensure these workers stay injury-free on the job.

The phrase “workers with intellectual disabilities” covers an extremely wide range of people and abilities. So when the Safety+Health editorial staff originally discussed pursuing this story, we were hesitant to group such a large number of people into one broad category. We believed it was unlikely that one specific approach or solution could serve to keep these workers safe. Lauretta’s research confirmed this, as well as the fact that little information is available on the topic.

Although the issue may not be on the radar for many safety professionals at this point, we believe it is important to introduce the topic to our readers in the hope that it might stir discussion in the workplace safety and research communities. For example, the number of individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder continues to increase. Although many are still children or young people, and despite the fact that many working-age individuals with intellectual disabilities are not employed, the time will come when some will be part of the workforce. Safety professionals will need to be prepared to use their safety knowledge and communication skills to help incorporate these individuals into the workplace safety culture.

If you have encountered this situation in your workplace, we would be interested in hearing about your experiences. Please drop either me or Lauretta a line (melissa.ruminski@nsc.org or lauretta.claussen@nsc.org) and tell us about it. And as more information becomes available on this topic, count on us to keep you up to date.

The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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