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Eye Safety & Safety Glasses (Jan/Feb-24)
Protecting Employees When Performing Machine Operations (Nov/Dec-23)
Protecting Students from Machine Hazards (Jul/Aug-23)
Electrical Safety (May/Jun-23)
Machine Guarding (Jan/Feb-23)
Have We Learned Anything About Safety Over the Last Fifty Years? (Nov/Dec-22)
OSHA Annouces 2021 Top 10 Frequently Cited Standards (Sep/Oct-22)
Have You Conducted Your Periodic Lockout & Tagout Audit? (Jan/Feb-22)
Workplace Violence (Jul/Aug-21)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-21)
Creating A Safety Culture (Nov/Dec-20)
Before You Purchase New Machinery (Sep/Oct-20)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-20)
OSHA Issues Interim Guidance to Help Prevent Worker Exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Mar/Apr-20)
Have You Recently Conducted Your Required Safety & Health Program Audits? (Nov/Dec-19)
Does OSHA Cite Employers Equally? (May/Jun-19)
Are You Ready For The New Year? (Mar/Apr-19)
Creating a Safety Culture Means Staying Informed (Nov/Dec-18)
Safe Lifting Techniques (Sep/Oct-18)
Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Jul/Aug-18)
Do You Know How Old Your Tires Really Are? (Jan/Feb-18)
Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance (Nov/Dec-17)
Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
Protect Your Employees from Heat Stress Related Injuries (Jul/Aug-17)
Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
Machine Safety (Sep/Oct-15)
Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
Forklift Safety Practices (May/Jun-15)
Using the Right Power Saw to Cut Plastic Materials (Mar/Apr-15)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-15)
Ergonomics (Sep/Oct-14)
Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
First Aid Program (Mar/Apr-14)
Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls (Nov/Dec-13)
The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
Safety & New Employee Orientation (Jul/Aug-13)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
Staying Safe This Winter (Nov/Dec-12)
Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
Select issue:

SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act

Do you or someone you know have a disability? The purpose this article is to bring your attention as an employer to the requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I recently was asked to work as a safety expert in a case where a potential employee was not hired because she was deaf.

When I took on this case, I stated to the potential client that I was in favor of hiring and/or placing people with disabilities on the job and felt that with reasonable accommodation, most people with disabilities could be placed for employment. I also explained to my new client that there are also times when this could not be achieved and I would never place a worker or company at risk.

In researching and preparing my case report, I had the opportunity to visit the United States Equal Employment Commissions website (www.EEOC.GOV) and reviewed the laws of the United States and especially researched the section referring to the hiring and placing of employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fact: Some 43,000,000 Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities and this number is increasing as the population as a whole is growing older. Historically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities and despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

In general, with regard to employment, the act provides that employers may not discriminate in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, hiring, discipline, wages, benefits, etc., against any qualified individual with a disabil-ity who can perform the essential functions of a position with or without reasonable accommodation and without undue hardship placed upon the employer. Some definitions:


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as seeing, hearing, performing tasks, learning, etc., or who has a record of or is regarded as having such a disability but who is otherwise qualified and can perform the essential functions of a position with or without an accommodation.

Who is Considered an Employer?

In general, the term “employer” means a company with 15 or more employees.

Qualified Individual With A Disability

A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education or other requirements of a position and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. For example, an otherwise qualified candi-date who is wheelchair-bound is seeking a computer input position. The computer work, which is 90% of the day’s work, would be considered the “essential function” for which the candidate is qualified with perhaps an accommodation of a higher desk to accommodate their wheelchair.

Reasonable Accommodation

The Act requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for current and potential employees. Some of the most common accommodations include shifting work schedules to allow for special transportation needs, raising work stations on blocks to accommodate chairs or having interview questions written out to accommodate a deaf applicant. The government does not require that accommodations be the most expensive solutions to the problem. Raising a computer workstation on blocks to fit a wheel-chair is considered an accommodation just as buying an expensive hydraulic lifting workstation would be. Adding a secure plywood ramp is as acceptable as digging up concrete stairs and repouring them.

Undue Hardship

An important part of the Act for employers is the term undue hardship. In general, the term “undue hardship” means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense. In the example above of the computer input worker, additional occasional work, such as filing, could be reasonably assigned to other workers without an undue hardship. If however, the computer work was 40% of the job and filing in high and low places inaccessible to a wheelchair-bound person were the majority of the work, accommodating this person might cause an undue hardship in reassigning workloads or restructuring the filing system to accommodate the person.

Taken into consideration when reviewing the reasonableness of an accommodation and/or undue hardship are the nature and cost of the accommodation, the financial resources of the company overall and the effectiveness of the accommodation.

What do the Americans with Disabilities Act and Safety have in common? Everything: the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) still gives the best guidance when deciding if your place of employment is safe for all employees. Remember the OSHA laws state this: “Each employer shall furnish to each employee, employment, and a place of employment that is free from recognized dangers that are causing or likely to cause serious physical harm.” The OSHA laws require you as an employer to conduct an analysis of your work areas to discover any work environments that are unsafe and then have a plan in place to make them safe.

For more detailed information and technical assistance on the ADA, go to or call 800-514-0301.

One last thing before I go, I would like each employer to visit the following site Canada has started a program to have the youths of that country understand safety before going out to the workforce. Take a look and then let me know if you will help me establish the program here in the United States and in other countries.

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of this page.

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