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The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as 'an individual with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities'.
There are approximately 8.6 million people in the UK who are covered by the the Equality Act, over 5.5 million of whom are of working age - that's 16% of the total workforce.
If you have a disabled employee - whether a new appointment or a change in the status of an existing member of staff - you should carry out a risk assessment to ensure that their health and safety needs are catered for within the company's overall plan.
Some of the things you should consider in terms of the individual's needs are:
When we talk about 'disability', the image that comes to most people's minds is a person in a wheelchair. But disability covers a much wider range - just think again about the Equality Act definition.
A disabled person could be someone who is fully mobile, but may be deaf, or have a severe speech impediment, or have problems with his or her sight - tunnel vision or red/green colour blindness, for example. They could also have a long-term mental health problem, such as depression.
You need to know if any of your present or possible future employees has a disability and make sure that you make 'reasonable adjustments' if this person could be deemed to be at a disadvantage in relation to others in the workplace, as required by the Equality Act.
Here is a list of some of the ways you could make life a bit easier for a disabled employee:
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