The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognizes that persons with disabilities (PWDs) are “key actors in the transformation of our world.” As such, their economic contributions as workers should be protected. This starts with making the workplace considerate and responsive to their needs.
The United States Department of Labor, meanwhile, takes fervent steps to protect the livelihood of the disabled. Nondiscrimination laws for the disabled are in place, and reasonable accommodation of the needs of the disabled is often expected in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) are basic legislation to this end.
The U.S. also has an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enact protections for the disabled. The agency implements the law stating that no disabled person should be refused employment on the basis of disability.
The law defines explicitly “reasonable accommodations” of disabled workers through the following means: making facilities friendly and accessible, allowing flexible schedules such as part-time work, providing assistive technology, modifying policies, and adjusting work positions.
The employer is expected to have a dialogue with the employee outlining the latter’s needs and company provisions answering to such. Summarily, this move takes to heart the stipulation in OSHA for employers to create a safe and hazard-free environment for their employees. This obligation extends not only to employers of PWDs. Every employer is expected to fulfill this. Furthermore, the Labor Department conducts workplace inspections to ascertain that such laws are followed.
Captain Martin Lloyd Sanders, Ph.D., is an officer in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), and has rendered more than 12 years of service in the occupational safety and health. For similar reads, click here.