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Workplace Adjustments

Viimati uuendatud: 24.02.2017


Disability in itself is not an illness, but a loss of function or a deviation. According to the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, disabilities are classified into three stages – moderate, severe, and profound disability. The distinction is made based on how much external help the person needs. A disability does not automatically mean incapacity for work and if the workplace is adjusted accordingly, the disability is not an obstacle for working. If the employee has partially lost the working ability due to an occupational accident or work-related illness, the legislation regulating the work relationships obliges the employer to provide an opportunity for the employee to continue working in the company on a suitable position.

The employer must create suitable working and rest rooms for the employees with disabilities, provide them with suitable tools, and make sure that the workplace is adapted according to the bodily and mental capabilities. Adaptation means that the building, work room, workplace, and the tool is made accessible and usable for the disabled employee. This requirement also applies for public access paths and rooms that the disabled employees use. Work health and safety should not be used as an excuse for not hiring people with disabilities, or when dismissing them. Properly adjusted workplaces are safer and more accessible also to all other employees. During the risk assessment it must be determined what could harm the disabled employee at work and adapt the safety measures accordingly.

People with hearing difficulties or the deaf are generally physically fit and don’t need special re-arrangements, but work in a noisy environment and positions which require active communication with customers is not recommended for them. If the equipment is suitable, partially sighted persons can work as secretaries or administrators when good technical aids are available (computer with speech software, Braille keyboard, etc.). People with a profound eyesight disability need more adjustments and outside support, but could be successful working as masseurs and packers. People with a movement disability usually have assisting movement devices (prosthesis, crutches, wheelchair, manually driven car, etc.) and need level ground, ramps and elevators, certainly also handrails and low steps. Employee with a mental or physical disability has a wide spectrum of skills or abilities, don’t usually need the costly adjustment or rooms or special equipment, but permanently stable surroundings instead.

Persons with disabilities could have certain difficulties with adapting and the employer should take this into account and give them more time to fit in. Prior to employment, it is best to discuss all the requirements for the workplace and working. When adjusting the workplace, it is reasonable to do it in cooperation with the person for whom the adjustments are made – this guarantees that the workplace corresponds to the actual requirements and helps to avoid making unnecessary costs.

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