Health and safety legislation should not prevent disabled people finding or staying in employment and should not be used as a false excuse to justify discriminating against workers.
Guidance for employers
As an employer you are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all your employees, whether they have a disability or not.
You cannot always tell when someone has a disability and some people may not make you aware that they are disabled, particularly where it will not interfere with their ability to do the job.
There is no requirment to carry out a specific, separate, risk assessment for a disabled person. If you become aware of a worker (or visitor to the workplace) with a disability, you may need to review your existing risks assessment to make sure it covers risks that might be present for them. Don't make assumptions or introduce blanket policies, be aware that disabilities can affect people in very individual ways.
Find out more about risk assessments
Under equality law employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers so that a disabled worker has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job as a non-disabled person. This may mean removal of physical barriers and/or providing extra support for a disabled worker.
In many cases making adjustments will be simple and inexpensive, what is considered a reasonable adjustment will depend, among other things, on the size and the nature of the business.
Reasonable adjustments may include:
- providing suitable fire evacuation procedures
- allowing time off for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment
- buying or modying equipment
- adjusting the premises or workstations
- providing a reader or interpreter
- providing adequate toilet facilities
You cannot insist employees to reveal details of their disability as they are under no obligation to do so and if they do reveal their disability you must get consent before appraching specialists or doctors. Ensure you involve the disabled worker in the process and discussions and share with them any specialist information provided.
People with mental health conditions, including those linked to stress, may also require adjustments in the workplace, with employees and employers working together.
Find out more about Mental Well-being at Work
Guidance for employees
As an employee you should:
- take reasonable care of your own health and safety and the health and safety of anyone who might be affected by what you are doing
- co-operate with your employer on health and safety issues which includes listening, following instructions, attending training and using asn safety equipment provided
- inform your employer if you see something that might harm you or someone else.
You do not have to disclose your disability, however, when making a decision you should consider the following:
- if you have a disability you are protected under equality law. This makes it unlawful for employers to treat an employee with a disability less favourably that other employees for any reason connected with their disability, unless there is justification for such action.
- employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled workers aren't disadvantaged when doing their jobs
- if your employer does not know about your disability they will not be able to take any necessary action to protect you from harm.
Your employer must manage the workplace risks to the health and safety of all their employees and must include you in relevant health and safety training and information. Your employers may need to involve others, for example, specialists or your doctor but only if you give your consent to this.
- Balancing disability rights and health and safety responsibilities
- Equality Commission website
- Disability Action website
- Employment rights and the disability discrimination act - nidirect website