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Health and safety body calls for improved practices in supporting disabled workers

A leading voice from the world of occupational safety and health has highlighted a call made in the House of Commons recently, for the Government to do more to ensure people with disabilities can work from home as it seeks to tackle labour market shortages.

The call, made by Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens, has been noted by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Observing a fall in disability employment as more workers have been required to return to offices and factories post-pandemic, Mr Stephens suggested the Government incentivise employers to help workers work from home, a move which would particularly benefit those with disabilities.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), people with disabilities make up an estimated one billion, or 15% of the world’s population – about 80% are of working age. The International Social Security Association (ISSA) estimates that for every dollar invested in work reintegration and rehabilitation, employers realise an average return of more than three dollars.

Enhancing workplaces

IOSH believes occupational safety and health professionals help this return on investment, not just by recommending workplace assessments and adjustments to help workers remain safe at work and return to work, but by enhancing workplaces and supporting employers’ efforts to employ, retain and accommodate more people with disabilities.

“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.

“There isn’t only one way to achieve this, but IOSH advocates creating human-centred, worker-friendly work environments.

“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,” said Ruth.

“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 of their best,” she added.

“So, 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. In the current world of work, organisations cannot be sustainable without protecting the safety, health and wellbeing of the most vital resource they have: their workers."

IOSH March 2023


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