Invisible disabilities include conditions that can’t be identified visually like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Although these conditions can’t be seen, they can still have a substantial effect on the safety of your project site, especially since you and your workforce may not be cognizant of their existence. Invisible disabilities can lead to perilous situations without warning, so it’s important that everyone on your workforce knows what to do when a situation involving such a disability occurs.
In part one of this two-part series, the Orlando construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law discussed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and several examples of invisible disabilities. Now, we will switch gears and discuss some of the reasons why these disabilities remain invisible despite employees understanding the ramifications of their secrecy.
More often than not, those suffering from a disability wish things could be different for them. They may resist accepting the reality that they have a disability. This is extremely common with conditions like depression, in which a person might consider their waves of negative emotions a normal thing. Unfortunately, denying your condition doesn’t prevent it from affecting work performance.
Lack of Awareness
On the other hand, some people simply don’t understand their symptoms or lack the knowledge or self-awareness to reach out for medical help. Lesser known disabilities may go unreported for years before they are identified. This means workers currently under your employ could present a risk to others without knowing any better.
Many employees with disabilities may feel stigmatized if they publicize their condition. Social stigma can cause a person to withhold the truth about their disability in the pursuit of acceptance. It’s important to make all of your workers feel as though they are part of a family so that they are forthcoming about their disability. This can help you avoid a significant injury in the future and create a closer, more cohesive team of construction professionals. It’s important to remind your workers that all employees should be treated equally regardless of any disabilities they may suffer from.
While it’s illegal for a contractor to disclose information regarding accommodations for a worker with a disability to other employees, such perceived “special treatment” can result in misperceptions about the relationship between the employer and employee. This can create a tense work environment, which is why many workers suffering from invisible disabilities opt to hide their condition altogether.
When it comes down to it, there’s no way to control your employees’ disabilities. That said, you can create a work environment that welcomes openness and encourages employees to welcome those suffering from invisible disabilities. This can be a fine line to walk alone, so consult the Orlando construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law for assistance dealing with workers with disabilities.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.