The Amputee Coalition announced its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October, and is encouraging others to do so as well. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “My disability is one part of who I am.”
The Amputee Coalition has specifically researched the issue of people with limb loss and employment. Results from studies that examine return to work rates among people with limb loss vary according to level and complexity of amputation. Some studies suggest that the rate of return to work for people with limb loss is around 56 percent (Pezzin, 2000). Other studies indicate that 66 percent of individuals with unilateral lower-limb amputation (Fisher, Hanspal et al., 2003) return to work, decreasing to 16 percent for individuals with bilateral lower-limb amputations (Smith, Agel et al., 2005). Studies suggest that 22 to 66 percent of individuals with limb loss who return to work retained the same job (Burge, 2007). Rates of return to work are slightly higher (74 percent) for people who lose a limb due to an industrial workplace injury (Millstein, 1985).
A recent report from the Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability found that rates of employment for people with disabilities slipped over the last year. In September 2014, 26.9 percent of working-age people with disabilities were employed. In September, 25.7 percent of working-age people with disabilities were employed (Foundation and Disability, 2015).
In 2008, the last year that reliable data are available, an estimated 6,230 amputations occurred in the workplace. Of these, 43.7 percent occurred in the manufacturing industry and 21.3 percent occurred in the trade, transportation, and utility industry. Individuals engaged in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations; installation, maintenance, and repair occupations; and production occupations had the highest incidence rates for amputations occurring in the workplace (BLS, 2009).
For more information about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways to promote its messages, visit dol.gov/ndeam.