Guidance for employers
As an employer you are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all your employees, whether they have a disability or not.
You cannot always tell when someone has a disability and some people may not make you aware that they are disabled, particularly where it will not interfere with their ability to do the job.
You have a duty to consult with your employees, or their representatives, on issues relating to health and safety. They know about the job and how the way it is done can impact upon them, and they are likely to have good ideas about how to change things to make the situation better.
There is no requirement to carry out a specific, separate, risk assessment for a disabled person. If you become aware of a worker (or others, e.g. visitors) with a disability, you may need to review your existing risk assessment to make sure it covers risks that might be present for them.
Don’t make assumptions or introduce blanket policies, be aware that disabilities can affect people in very individual ways.
Unnecessary assumptions might include:
- Thinking a driver who loses an arm can’t drive anymore - steering wheels can be modified or replaced, e.g. with a joystick;
- Believing a deaf person can’t be warned of fire - flashing lights can supplement sirens and bells;
- Thinking a person with a mental health condition cannot do a demanding job – they can, as long as the risks are managed and they are supported in their role, so that it does not become stressful;
- Employing someone with a disability is going to be expensive – many reasonable adjustments required by equality law, do not incur costs (see ‘reasonable adjustments’ below).
Unnecessary blanket policies might include:
- Banning all people with a certain condition from carrying out particular tasks, despite the fact that symptoms and severity of symptoms for that condition differ greatly from person to person. Instead, consider how the condition actually affects their ability to carry out the task
Find out more about managing the risks in your business.
Under equality law, you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers. The aim of the duty is to make sure that, as far as is reasonable, a disabled worker has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job as a non-disabled person.
This may mean removal of physical barriers and/or providing extra support for a disabled worker.
In many cases, making adjustments will be simple and low cost, and an employer is not required to do more than is reasonable; for example improving access or layout, adapting work equipment or relocating a workstation. What is reasonable will depend, among other things, on the size and nature of the business.
If the support needed is subject to delay, it might be necessary to implement short-term temporary arrangements for disabled workers.
In addition to discussing things with your disabled workers, you may need to involve others to help understand the effects on workplace health and safety of your employee’s disability. For example disability employment advisors or medical professionals.
Remember, you cannot insist employees reveal details of their disability, they are under no obligation to do so, and you must get their consent before approaching specialists or doctors. Ensure the disabled worker is involved in this process and share with them any specialist information provided.
People with mental health conditions, including those linked to stress, may also require adjustments in the workplace, with employees and employers working together:
The following links take you to gov.uk, where you can find out more about: