Rehabilitation – focus on the work place
“Managing disability in the workplace”is an ILO code of practice formulated in Geneva, International Labour Office, 2002. This code has been drawn up to guide employers to adopt a positive strategy in managing disability related issues in the workplace. It is intended to be read in the context of national conditions and to be applied in accordance with national laws and practice. The code describes general duties of employers, workers representatives and also responsibilities of authorities.
When a worker develops health problems, making it difficult to work, the employer should be able to find solutions to help out. The aim should be to keep the worker at the work place. If a sick worker loses the job, huge problems arise. Welfare systems, like sick leave and compensations are important, but it is also important to be aware of the need of help from the work place as well. Simple things can make wonders, keeping workers active at work, and not staying home with their problems.
An office worker with pain in the wrist coming from the computer work.
The photo shows an office worker. She developed pain in her wrist, due to long periods of work at the computer desk with an awkward position for the wrist. The wrist needs support to avoid this type of pain to develop. She has now got a small pad to put under the wrist during writing on the computer, like the one you see on the photo below. This small gadget removed her pain completely. She does not have pain anymore. The pad makes her wrist rest and work in a better position than she had without, and the strain on her tendons and muscles in the wrist is no longer present. This example illustrates the need for a good ergonomic evaluation of a work place when someone develops pain from their work. This is much better than to quit the job due to pain.
Office worker in standing position © University of Bergen
Some persons with back problems cannot sit for long periods, as the back pain develops during sitting. An office worker with this problem needs not to stay at home. Why not give her a high desk to stand at instead?
How to get access for a wheel chair user? © Colourbox
Earlier in this lecture, we have described the need for wheel chairs for instance for persons with paralytic legs. A wheel chair makes it possible for the worker to get around and come to work. Therefore, it is needed that the work places give access to wheel chairs. A ramp for rolling the wheel chair up the stairs for instance, can be necessary. For wheel chair users, help from the employer on such practical issues is fundamental.
Disabled workers sometimes have psychosocial problems at work, as the other workers may not know how to handle the situation with this type of colleague. It is of uttermost importance that the employer at workplaces with disabled works informs other workers about the situation. Good leadership here is clear information about any changes related to the presence of the disabled worker to the other employees. The leader must also give the standard for the attitudes towards the disabled colleague; telling that this worker is highly welcome, and that everyone will do their best to help him or her if needed.
A ramp can be used for a wheel chair user. © Colourbox
© University of Bergen/Author: B.E. Moen