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Disabilities in the Workplace

October is Disabilities in the Workplace Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to take action.

About one in four Americans has a disability. The risk of disability increases with age, but accidents can lead to disability any time – especially in a high-risk occupation like long haul trucking.

It’s understandable why people might feel vulnerable when talking about disability. But it is in the future for many, and the current reality of millions more. We all have a role to play in making society, especially the workforce, more accessible for people who live with disability through no fault of their own.

Does Disability Affect Your Workplace? Odds Are the Answer Is Yes

Disabilities come in many different forms, and not all of them are visible.

Even with good intentions, fleet companies can only do their best with driver safety when they know about the needs of their workforce. But many people have learned that hiding a disability is the only way to avoid workplace discrimination and the potential for losing a job.

You may have drivers and other personnel working their hardest while shouldering the invisible burden of disability. By creating an inclusive environment, you can fight against the culture of silence personnel may have inherited from former employers or from society at large.

Let’s consider just a few of the ways disability can affect your staff:

1. Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities include things like vision or hearing impairment and reduced range of motion. If your personnel have passed the appropriate licensure and certification, it is fair to say they are still capable of doing their work in spite of their disability. But you can take driver safety to the next level.

Employees with physical disabilities often do not feel supported in the workplace. When they feel they are “on their own” in making necessary accommodations, it can hinder their performance. Gather the facts from employees with disabilities to learn about how your fleet could be modified for accessibility.

2. Mental and Emotional Health

Some cognitive and mental health conditions, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are recognized as disabilities on the federal and state levels when they cause significant impairment. Yet, these conditions and others often go unreported in order to protect a driver’s “good name.”

Fleet management software can assist personnel who might have difficulty optimizing a route or making the most of time on the road. But even the best fleet management suite is really only the start. Wellness programs can help fill the gaps fleet technology investments leave behind while raising team morale.

3. Conditions Related to Driver Well-Being

Compared to the general population, drivers are at greater risk of several conditions. Some of these are physical, like chronic pain, and others are mental or emotional, like depression. There is no “one size fits all” solution for the full range of concerns, but making driver wellness a priority sends a message.

Through early intervention, fleet companies have the chance to help drivers before emerging conditions become verified disabilities. Those with disabilities may require accommodations, not only in terms of their trucks but also in scheduling or other matters. Compassionate understanding goes a long way.

This October, you can use Disabilities in the Workplace Awareness Month to get a fresh new start. It is never too late to help your personnel thrive – but it’s also never too early to take a proactive approach. Your staff will reward you with their loyalty and hard work.