Your risk assessments should be up to date and take account of:
This guidance will help you when:
- checking existing risk assessments;
- a job applicant or employee has declared a disability or long-term health condition and there is good reason to believe it may affect workplace health and safety.
- involve disabled applicants and employees – appreciate the skills and insight they may have to find the best outcome;
- work together with disabled applicants and employees if it is necessary to assess whether their disability affects health and safety and, if so, to what extent. In other words, work together when doing risk assessments that consider the effects of the person’s disability and when thinking about the ‘reasonable adjustments’ needed for them to enter or stay in work;
- take account of any adjustments already in place, so your conclusions are based on any remaining risks, if they exist;
- make new ‘reasonable adjustments’ to overcome remaining risks, remembering to work with the disabled person to tailor the adjustments to their needs;
- be sensitive and timely to support the disabled person and avoid delays. Where delay can’t be helped (for instance, if you are waiting for an Access to Work grant) you may have to make short-term temporary arrangements so they are not at a disadvantage in their work;
- involve others, such as specialists (eg Disability Employment Advisors, Occupational Health) or the employee’s representative or advocate, if you need to gain a better understanding. Many disabled people are experts in their disability, but others, for instance people with certain learning disabilities or people new to a long-term health condition, may be less familiar. Attend professional disability-awareness training if needed;
- check that advisors, such as safety consultants or the occupational health (‘works’) doctors, understand disability discrimination;
- share with the disabled person (and their representative, if they have one) any specialist information to give them a say in its contribution to the assessment;
- make sure you can give good reasons for decisions you make about how to manage health and safety risks in relation to a disabled person. Otherwise you risk discriminating illegally. Following this guide will help;
- create a working environment that allows disabled people to feel comfortable talking about their disability;
- be sensible. Remember our lives can never be free from risks and for disabled people, overcoming them can be harder. This doesn't mean being overly protective. You should enable disabled people to enter and stay in work. So check with the person that workplace adjustments are a help not a hindrance.
- make assumptions about the health and safety implications of a person’s disability as it might not make a difference to workplace risks. If you do a risk assessment with no good reason you might discriminate illegally. See guide to the law;
- have ‘blanket’ policies that treat disabled people differently. For instance, a ban on applicants with, say, epilepsy, diabetes or mental health problems is likely to be direct discrimination. Be aware that disabilities often affect people in very individual ways;
- have unnecessary criteria for a job, eg the need for a Group 2 driving licence when a Group 1 licence would do. This could unfairly discriminate;
- insist on employees revealing details of their disability. Disabled people have rights to confidentiality. However, they also have health and safety responsibilities, so may have to tell you about the consequences of a condition if there are health and safety effects. Then they can work with you on ‘reasonable adjustments’.
And finally, don’t panic: yes you may have to do things differently. But with the right levels of involvement and support, you should find you are on the right track to meet your legal duties. Following this guidance will help.
See Useful links for employers for more information, including government grants.