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Top 10 things to know about managing disability, injury or illness in the workplace

Managing disability, injury or illness in your workplace is often easier than you think.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone is capable of work.

Top 10 things to know about managing disability, injury or illness in the workplace

Regardless of disability, injury or illness, everyone can perform some tasks. For people living with injury or illness, work is considered a type of therapeutic intervention.

People with disabilities are often more capable than you think. 1 in 6 adults with a disability have a tertiary qualification and more than one-third are managers and professionals.

Here are the top 10 things you should know:

  1. Work is good for health and wellbeing. It provides significant benefit for people with injury, illness or disability.
 
  1. People with disabilities make reliable, committed employees. Research has found that they have lower levels of absenteeism and fewer accidents. 83% of people with disabilities do not need time off because of their condition.
 
  1. Disability is diversity - and diversity is good for business. Research shows the benefits of a diverse workforce including productivity, motivation, creativity and better employee morale and engagement.
 
  1. People with disability are experts in their own needs. In many cases, employees with disabilities know their own abilities, limitations and what support they might need from their employer.
 
  1. The most common workplace modifications for people with disability are flexible/part time hours.
 
  1. The common impact of physical disability is physical functioning, ie mobility, dexterity or stamina. In most cases job redesign, flexible hours and workplace modifications can accommodate physical disabilities in the workplace.
 
  1. People with a learning disability (such as dyslexia) might benefit from adjustments such as task cards, checklists, screen-reading software, verbal (rather than written) instructions and smartphones (to assist with memory and planning).
 
  1. People with autism or an intellectual disability are very capable, although they will often take longer and require systematic teaching methods. Most people will face challenges with one or more of the following: comprehension, memory, attention span or concentration, problem solving, self care, appropriate behaviours and social skills. With the right support and teaching, they can learn to do job tasks and be very valuable team members.
 
  1. People with an acquired brain injury are living with a complex and often hidden disability. Their condition may impact vision and/or hearing and verbal communication. Other common impacts include memory, concentration levels, initiative, problem solving and physical flexibility.
 
  1. People with mental health conditions may benefit from flexible working arrangements, longer or more frequent breaks, a quiet/private office to reduce noise, regular meetings with a supervisor and division of large projects in to smaller tasks.

It is important to remember that each and every person with a disability is different. The information in this article is general in nature and is not intended to be a comprehensive guide on to how to work with a person with an injury, illness or disability.

Remember that people with disabilities are often experts in their own needs. It’s important to always ask your employees what support they need and would like to have.
 

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