As an employer, you care about your staff and want to ensure that your workplace is accessible for anyone who may have a disability or long-term health condition. Having a workplace that’s safe and accessible is not only a legal necessity, but it also makes employees feel taken care of and respected, whilst promoting equality in the workplace. So, what steps can you follow to ensure that your workplace is accessible?
Signs are essential in the workplace for obvious hazards such as wet floors or broken appliances. However, you may want to consider how and when you use them to ensure that everyone in the office benefits from them, especially someone who has a visual impairment. For example, you may wish to use braille signs, which can aid the visually impaired in locating stairs, exit routes, and toilets. You can find a variety of signs on websites such as mysafetysign, which include signs with braille.
Flexible working hours
Whilst most employees feel valued when they are given flexible working hours, they can be particularly valuable for an employee with a disability or long-term health condition. Giving the employee the possibility of working part-time or from home could help to support their needs and manage their working life effectively. Likewise, if an employee has recently acquired a disability, they may wish to have a phased return to work, which allows them to gradually adapt to working with their condition and helps to manage any emotional needs. You can also create an accessible working environment by supporting an employee when they may need to go to a hospital or doctor’s appointment.
An accessible workplace means a workplace with the correct equipment. This can involve anything from making sure your workplace has ramps or lifts that make it wheelchair accessible, to including assistive digital technology for someone with a visual or hearing impairment. It is also essential to check that all door handles and light switches are accessible and within reach for all employees, and your workplace must always have a disabled toilet.
Specialist training and support
As an employer, you may wish to go on specialist disability training courses to gain a deeper understanding of disability equality and identify any common issues when employing staff with disabilities. You may also wish to encourage your employees to go on courses that expand their knowledge and ensures that they are able to work collaboratively in a diverse workplace. Additionally, a disabled employee may require specialist training and support to be able to manage their role. Mental health support must also be available for all employees.
The key to an accessible workplace is being able to adapt to any needs an employee might have and asking them what you can do to help. Never make assumptions. Communicate with your employee and find out what you can do to make a task easier or relieve any discomfort. Your employee will be relieved to know that they have a kind, sensitive and supportive employer who responds to their needs and cares about their wellbeing.