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IMPAIRED WORKERS The comparative performance of impaired workers and their able-bodied T he necessity o f absorbing into our industrial life several hundred thousand permanently impaired veterans in the prime o f life has again focused attention on the performance o f impaired workers in industry Many employers learned during the last few years that impaired men and wom en can be very desirable workers if they are carefully placed so that their impairments d o not constitute handicaps. Obviously, a man with one leg cannot \ perform satisfactorily on a job that requires tw o g o o d legs; but he can d o very well on a job that requires tw o g ood hands It is desirable that the evaluation o f impaired workers be based on objective findings rather than solely on an appeal to the humanitarianism and patriotism o f employers. The U. S. Bureau o f Labor Statistics is n ow gathering factual reports directly from the records o f indus trial plants which employed impaired workers in sizable numbers during the last few years. The records o f unimpaired and impaired workers were matched on every important point— production, absenteeism, accident hazards, and per formance in general— in order to obtain accurate statistical comparison. Further studies are in progress in cooperation with the Veterans’ Administration This is a report o f the survey to date, covering 9 plants where 908 impaired workers were matched with 1,165 unimpaired workers. Only serious impairments were studied. OU JPU;j§ T he average weekly output of impaired workers was 2.8 percent better than that of unimpaired workers on the same job. The performance of impaired workers excelled in every one of the plants which had a careful placement program. It fell below that of unimpaired fellow workers in one of the plants without a place ment program. .... ! C : :1:W1C; I ! ! ill ^^m paired workers produced 3.6 percent more for every hour worked than did their unimpaired co-workers on the same jobs. The significance of careful placement is emphasized by the fact that the efficiency of impaired workers was better in each of the four plants which had a careful placement program. the plants without such a program, the reverse was true. In some of WORK IN JU R Y F R E Q U E N C 9 T ... «ULhe number of work injuries per month per 100 workers was identical for both impaired and unimpaired workers. Each had 20 such injuries, and practically all of these required only first aid. In the 5 plants with careful placement programs, the impaired had 20 work injuries against 21 for the unimpaired, with lower rates in 4 plants out of 5. Where there were no careful placement programs, impaired workers averaged 18 work injuries per 100 workers per month against 14 for the unimpaired. The different rates for plants with and without placement programs reflect different types of work hazards. absenteeism, the difference the two groups is negligible. between Scheduled work hours lost because workers were absent from work because of illness or other reasons amounted to 3.2 percent for impaired workers and 3.3 percent for unimpaired. Absenteeism for men workers closely approximated the total group average. Rates for impaired women, of whom comparatively few were engaged, were higher than for unimpaired women, largely because of lack of satisfactory placement programs in certain plants. They lost 8.6 percent of scheduled hours against 7.8 percent for unimpaired women. In plants with good placement programs, however, impaired women lost 5.6 percent of their time, as against 6.6 percent for the unimpaired. In plants without such programs, the time lost by impaired women came to 10.4 percent, and for unimpaired women, 8.5 percent. me n WOMEN SEPARATIONS eparation figures given here represent only voluntary quitting by workers and are for an unusual wartime period when labor turnover was very high. For every 4 impaired workers who left their jobs, 10 unimpaired workers quit. Thus, the quit rate for unim paired workers was 2 % times as high as that of the impaired. Mobility of impaired workers is, of course, not usually as great as for the unim paired. These preliminary findings indicate tha t when im paired workers have been placed into jobs in which their im pairm ent are not handicaps, they do as w ell— a n d frequently better— than the so-called “ norm al” workers: They are as efficient, they produce as w ell, they lose no more time, they are not in ju red more frequen tly, a n d they stay on the job longer • T his report is prelim inary because it is based on a sm all group o f workers. M ore conclusive figures w ill be ava ilable later when many more workers have been studied in a great variety o f jobs a n d industries in the course o f an inquiry now being in itia ted fo r the Veterans’ A dm inistration. Bulletin No. 857 Prepared by UN ITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR BUREAU OF LABOR S TA TISTIC S IN D U S TR IA L HAZARDS DIVISION In Cooperation With the Veterans’ Administration JANUARY 1946 For sale by Superintendent o f Docum ents, Washington 25, D . C. U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1946 O - 683080 P rice 5 cents