5. Practical examples of how to promote disability equality at work

These examples illustrate good practice. They show how taking practical steps and involving disabled workers in developing solutions can promote disability equality in managing health and safety.

Supporting a worker with prostate cancer back to work

A worker wanted to return to work after being off with prostate cancer. This means they need to use urinary incontinence pads.

The employer and the worker discussed reasonable adjustments to help them return to work by:

  • ensuring there is a toilet adjusted for their use, for example, with a suitable bin to dispose of their urinary incontinence pads
  • allocating a conveniently located locker to the worker to store what they need
  • allowing access to a disabled toilet if the worker prefers, for example, needing more space

Regular work pattern for an operative with epilepsy

A machine operator on shift work developed epilepsy and notified their employer, who was concerned this might increase their risk of personal injury or put others at risk.

They discussed this and the employee gave consent for the employer to contact their GP. Through these discussions they found the employee was more likely to have seizures if their sleep pattern was disrupted. A move to day shifts gave them a regular work and sleep pattern, while helping them better manage their condition.

You can find guidance on workers with epilepsy from Epilepsy Action.

Firefighter with diabetes

A firefighter who developed insulin-dependent diabetes was seen by an occupational health doctor to help make arrangements for them to return to work.

Once the firefighter could show they were managing their diabetes, they were carefully tested on some key tasks to check they could do them safely (for example using breathing apparatus). Blood tests confirmed their sugar levels were stable and they were no more at risk of collapsing than any other firefighter.

They returned to work with the following reasonable adjustments made by their employer:

  • restrictions on the emergency vehicles they could drive
  • regular checks by the workplace health service
  • provision of a fridge for storing their insulin

There is guidance on medical conditions, disabilities and driving.

Supporting a colleague with mental health problems

An IT worker wanted to return to work after being off sick with mental health problems. Their employer helped them return, while managing and avoiding work-related stress by:

  • helping them speak openly about how their condition affected them, so they could work together on making adjustments and monitoring the worker’s wellbeing
  • allowing them to work a three-day week until they were ready to return to full-time work
  • arranging for their colleagues and supervisor to attend mental health awareness training so their team had better understanding

HSE has guidance on mental health and work-related stress.

Enabling a worker with sight loss to stay in work

An office worker who had recently suffered sight loss wanted to remain in work. Their employer arranged for them to have an occupational health assessment to check their ability to do the job. This assessment and discussions with their line manager enabled the employer to make the right adjustments, including:

  • a large-screen monitor and magnification software
  • changes to the workplace layout
  • making instruction manuals more accessible
  • reallocating minor duties to another colleague

There is more information on supporting workers with sight loss in RNIB’s Staying in work.

Becoming a Disability Confident employer

Employers are crucial to improving employment outcomes for disabled people. You can find guidance on supporting disabled workers and the benefits this can bring in the government’s Disability Confident employer scheme.

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