Accommodating employees with environmental sensitivities
Some OSHA required tests could result in the discovery of a previously undisclosed disability, or to a claim of discrimination from people who feel they were excluded from employment opportunities based on a disability.The ADA places restrictions on the types and timing of testing allowed, which should be considered when engaging in required OSHA testing.In its enforcement activities, OSHA adheres to a strict standard of confidentiality, which generally meets the standards required by the ADA.The physical environment of the workplace can pose access challenges and safety hazards to people with and without disabilities.Industrial environments, construction sites and other trade worksites are common places where workplace injuries can occur.Evaluating these environments with an eye toward physical accessibility will create safer work places for all employees.In general, the confidentiality requirements of the ADA are not compromised by employer compliance with OSHA regulations.
Certain access barriers, such as inaccessible multi-level buildings and narrow doorways, are obvious.
Employees who experience sensitivity to certain odors, particulates, cleaning products, foods or other irritants present in the workplace can experience symptoms ranging from mild nausea to sudden death.
These types of allergies and sensitivities can be considered disabilities under the ADA, but are sometimes challenging to accommodate. Comprehensive emergency and evacuation plans should include strategies for including individuals with disabilities in the event of a crisis or disaster, which often includes a way to evacuate buildings if the elevators are not available.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA’s safety and health standards—coupled with the efforts of employers, workers, safety and health professionals, unions and other worker advocates—have prevented countless work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. Certain OSHA requirements intersect with employer obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Department of Labor (DOL), is also charged with enforcing a variety of whistleblower statutes and regulations.