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Risk Assessments for Disabled Employees   

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Disability and Long Term Health Issues

A disability is a physical or mental impairment which has substantial and long term adverse effects on an employee’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Employers have an express obligation to consider the risks posed to any disabled workers or workers with long term health issues and to make reasonable adjustments.

The responsibility is shared by the worker, in that all employees are required to take care of their own health and safety and that of their fellow workers so employees must be encouraged to inform their employers of any disabilities or health issues that might create an additional risk to themselves or their co-workers and then must co-operate with the employer in assessing that risk and making any necessary accommodations to minimise that risk.

Conducting Risk Assessments

The health and safety of any disabled workers must be considered when conducting any risk assessments.  If you have no such employees then it will be sufficient to revisit any risk assessments when you do.   It is likely that you will need to conduct a specific risk assessment for each disabled worker for it to be truly effective and when considering Emergency Procedures it is important that each disabled worker have a personal escape plan that has been discussed and agreed with them.  When conducting or reviewing risk assessments:

complete your risk assessment for all employees and then consider how to make your disabled employees just as safe;

include disabled workers in any health and safety information and training;

involve disabled workers in the risk assessment process.  The best outcome to both will be achieved by working together to determine if any adjustments are necessary.  Do not make assumptions.

involve others, such as specialists or medical practitioners, if you need to in order to understand the effects on workplace health and safety of your employee’s disability or long-term health condition but seek your employee's consent before approaching them;

be sensitive and timely about making risk assessments if these are needed;

make other, short-term arrangements to support the employee when delay cannot be helped (for instance, if you are waiting for an Access to Work grant);

create a working environment that allows your disabled employees to feel comfortable talking about disability or long-term health conditions;

You must apply the same standards of safety to your disabled employees as to your other employees. If reasonable adjustments do not enable the disabled worker to work safely then the work cannot be carried out by that worker and you should seek professional advise.

Disability Discrimination Act

The provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act are beyond this guidance but in short require businesses to make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate disabled workers and visitors.  What is reasonable for your business depends on the:

    Type of business

    Size of the business and annual turnover

    Cost of the adjustment

    Disruption to the business while the work is being carried out

    Practicality of carrying out the adjustment

    Potential benefits to disabled customers and employees

If in doubt seek professional help. Contact us to help you with your assessments.

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