Knowledge of disabled law vital

Employers
must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the workplace, Disability Discrimination
Act says

 

Occupational
health nurses need stronger knowledge of the law and of disability aids as more
people with disabilities enter the workforce.

 

Last month
the Disability Rights Commission was formally launched. It has the power to
launch investigations and negotiate legally enforceable written agreements with
employers. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, employers must make
"reasonable adjustments" to enable a disabled person to work.

 

"Occupational
health nurses get involved in recommending and advising regarding reasonable
adjustments," said chairwoman of the RCN Society of Occupational Health
Nurses Kit Artus.

 

But, she
added, this does not always mean huge investments. "I heard of one case
where a person was blind and could not work because a colleague had an allergic
reaction to the guide dog. So the company put in a dog house."

 

Many
others can be helped through equipment. "There are computer boards;
systems where instead of having to type you can talk to the computer."

 

Staff with
disabilities tend to have lower sickness absence than others, said Artus, and
employers should focus on their abilities.

 

The
Disability Rights Commission chairman Bert Massie promised to work in
cooperation with employers. But he added, "We will first try to use the
force of argument but if that fails we will use the argument of force."

 

The
government is promoting greater recruitment, through its New Deal for Disabled
People, and skills shortages prompt employers to consider disabled applicants
more favourably than in the past.

 

www.drc-gb.org

 

Examples
of reasonable adjustment are:

 

– Reallocating
work to reduce physical tasks

 

– Relocating
work to the ground floor, if installing lifts is problematic

 

– Home
working

 

– Widening
doors and putting in ramps

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