With expectations rising that we could see a new subsidised model for occupational health services unveiled in the Budget next week (15 March), a call has been made for more help for people with disabilities to work safely and healthily from home.
The SNP’s Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West, last week urged the government to offer more incentives to employers to help workers work from home, a move that would particularly benefit people with disabilities.
Stephens highlighted that he was seeing falls in employment rates for people with disabilities as more workers are being required to return to offices and factories post-pandemic.
His call has been echoed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, which has long argued that putting in place technologies, adjustments and support for reintegration and rehabilitation normally brings with it a swift return on investment.
Occupational safety and health professionals can help this ROI by recommending workplace assessments and adjustments to help workers remain safe at work and return to work, it has said.
Disabilities and work
They can also enhance workplaces and support employers in their efforts to employ, retain and accommodate more people with disabilities in work, whether in a home office or a physical workplace.
“Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all their employees, including those with disabilities, and health and safety can be an enabler that supports disabled workers to work,” said IOSH head of policy Ruth Wilkinson.
“Good work is good for people’s health and wellbeing; that’s work that’s safe, supportive and accommodates people’s needs,” she added.
“By supporting and enabling people with long-term health conditions and disabilities to work from home, employers can help them fulfil their potential which has major benefits for the bottom-line, bringing higher productivity and profitability,” Wilkinson said.
“It is important to talk to your employees. If tailored to workers’ needs and abilities, a supportive, human-centred work environment, whether it be in a shared workspace or at home, will support those with both physical and mental health conditions or disability to give their best.
“We believe the government should accommodate and support employees’ needs and incentivise employers to remove barriers to work because, in turn, this will help disabled workers reach their economic and social potential,” Wilkinson added.