3. Making reasonable adjustments

You have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers. The aim of this duty under equality law is to ensure that, as far as is reasonable, disabled workers have the same access to everything involved in doing and keeping a job as non-disabled workers.

Meeting this duty may mean removing any physical barriers to working and/or providing extra support for disabled people. In many cases the adjustments will be simple, straightforward and low-cost.

Employers are not required to do more than what is considered reasonable (for example improving access by installing a ramp, changing the layout, adapting work equipment or letting a wheelchair user work on the ground floor). What might be considered reasonable will depend, among other things, on the size and nature of the business.

There are very few cases where health and safety law requires the exclusion of specific groups of people from certain types of work activity. While work in hazardous situations cannot always be eliminated, it can often be substantially reduced with comparatively little cost. Through reasonable adjustments, and reviews when circumstances change, risks can be managed by:

  • reallocating certain elements of the work activity to other colleagues
  • rescheduling duties to more suitable times
  • providing suitable alternative equipment (for example automated equipment to reduce manual handling)

We have practical examples of actions taken by employers to support workers with a range of disabilities and health conditions. If there is any delay in implementing such support measures, you might need to make temporary arrangements to manage any risks to disabled workers.

People with mental health conditions, including those linked to stress, may also require adjustments in the workplace. By working together with employees, employers can develop solutions to keep people at work while managing any foreseeable risk. There is more information in our guidance on stress and mental health .

Seeking specialist advice

In addition to discussing workplace adjustments with disabled workers, you may need specialist help to understand the effects of their disability on workplace health and safety.

You can seek help on disabilities and health conditions, and how to accommodate them, by contacting occupational health services and medical professionals.

It is important to note that employees are under no obligation to reveal details of their disability and you cannot insist on them doing so. You must also get their consent before approaching specialists and should involve them in that process, sharing any information and recommendations provided by doctors etc.

A wide range of further helpful information from HSE can be found in Resources and useful links.

This guidance is also available in an easy read format.

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