5 Myths About Disability Jobs at Manufacturing Plants

The above picture is of a woman sitting in a wheelchair at a cutting table cutting a piece of wood.

5 Myths About Disability Jobs at Manufacturing Plants

Getting a job as a disabled worker is an uphill battle, despite all of the laws that have been made and corporate promises that we always hear about. There is still a lot of stigma surrounding disabled workers. As of 2015, only 17.5% of disabled people in the United States were employed, compared to 65% of people with no disabilities. 

Here are five common myths that persist about disabled jobs in manufacturing. 

Myth #1: Disabled Workers Can’t Perform As Efficiently

We hear this all the time: disabilities make it more difficult for a worker to do their job so that work is going to do their job slower and less efficiently than a non-disabled worker. This myth is the fault of companies who are not following the law. By law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers so they can get their job done. As a bad example, a worker in a wheelchair who must cross a room frequently to do their job will be slower than a non-disabled worker. But if the employer is following the law, they will rearrange the layout of the room so that the worker in the wheelchair can have everything they need within arms’ reach. So this myth is a self-fulfilling prophecy: an employer who doesn’t accommodate disabled people (ie, doesn’t follow the law) is going to get a less efficient employee, while an employer who does follow the law will have no problem meeting their metrics.

Myth #2: Disabled Workers Can’t Handle Big Machinery

In manufacturing, oftentimes you are dealing with large, fast-moving machines, and sometimes there is a fear (based on stigma) that disabled employees won’t be able to handle the big machines. But the truth is that there are many jobs in a manufacturing plant, and big machines have many, many work stations. Obviously, a disabled amputee wouldn’t be driving a forklift, but he or she could very well be assigned a workstation along the assembly line, operating machines along the conveyor, or operating robots that work on large projects. Most of that work is done from a stationary position, and a good employer will be able to find a perfect place to assign a worker where they can excel at what they do best.

Myth #3: Disabled Workers Aren’t Safe in a Manufacturing Facility 

This plays into the stigma that employers have that disabled people are dangerous and erratic in their behavior—the notion that a disabled person (someone on crutches or with a sight impairment) will be unable to follow the safety protocols of the workplace. But the truth is that most disabled people are very aware of their disabilities, their strengths, and their weaknesses. If a disabled person gets a job in a manufacturing plant, the employer will find that the disabled person is often very agile and conscientious of their surroundings. With the proper accommodations (which are, again, required by law) a disabled person can handle almost any job the manufacturing plant can throw at them.

Myth #4: Disabled Workers Aren’t as Capable As Non-Disabled Workers

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some studies have shown that disabled people tend to excel in education more than their non-disabled counterparts. Disabled people have had difficulties in life that have trained them to push harder, to be better, to fight against the odds. Because some things don’t come as easy to disabled people, they know how to make the most of what they have, and this shines through in their performance. Employers of disabled people often find them to be the hardest working, the most reliable, and having the best attitude of their employees.

Myth #5: Disabled Workers Will Quit When Things Get Hard

Employers often think that, because disabled people are going to face undue burdens on the job—burdens that non-disabled workers don’t have to face—that the disabled employee is going to quit sooner or give up faster. But the opposite is true. Most disabled people in manufacturing jobs find contentment in the work, but more importantly, they recognize the struggle that it took to get to where they are, and they’re committed to making sure that they’ll succeed despite their difficulties. 


So you see, disabled workers in manufacturing jobs are often the best workers that the employers have. When given a chance to succeed (by the employer following the law) the disabled workers will find satisfaction and success in their work. Employers will come to value them, and they’ll seek out more disabled employees in the future.

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