Work is an important activity in the life of an adult person, for being able to support oneself and one’s family. It increases status in the family, friends and society in general, and is important to quality of life and health.
DISABILITY, SICK LEAVE AND WORK
Danish research shows that persons with mobility disabilities have a markedly lower rate of employment due mainly to physical workplace requirements. Furthermore Danish research about the workforce in general shows that sick leave due to muscle and skeletal disorders is increasing and is leading to early retirement in ordinary working.
The physical workplace environment is a significant barrier to work for people with disabilities. And many of these people want to work.
Reasonable accommodation at the workstation is of great importance for people currently in the workplace, accommodating their needs and preventing them from injury, and for persons with disabilities to compensate for their disabilities.
EXPERIENCE FROM ERGONOMIC INTERVENTION
Research shows the efficacy of ergonomic intervention at the workplace in the form of ergonomic redesign, workplace accommodation and assistive technology as essential parts of work. This is a way to obtain a healthy workplace for the people currently at the workplace and for persons with disabilities.
Workplace accommodation including adapted seating makes a difference to persons with muscle and skeletal disorders and to persons with mobility disabilities and their participation in work.
So far, only a few international studies have focused on the effect of assistive technology and reasonable workplace accommodation in work rehabilitation. However lots of testimonials show that satisfaction from an intervention is high.
FINDINGS FROM A QUALITATIVE STUDY
A qualitative study shows that physical demands at the workplace are reported as barriers to work for people with mobility disabilities.
The study participants received some kind of adaptation of their workplaces, including adapted seating, e.g. adjustable work chairs, standing chairs, stools, height-adjustable desks and work tables as well as a number of minor accessories for IT and telecommunication.
They achieved better mobility, better working posture, better standing and sitting endurance and less pain and fatigue and therefore regarded the workplace adaptations as a crucial part of their work rehabilitation process.
The results indicate that adapted seating, assistive technology and adaptation of the workplace are important parts of work rehabilitation.
Adapted seating facilitates work rehabilitation and prevents muscular skeletal disorders.
General ergonomic principles for seated, semi-seated and standing working positions should be considered. Work rehabilitation should be part of the general prevention process and the rehabilitation process.
Karen Lyng, O.T. Masters of rehabilitation science, Senior Ergonomic Advisor, VELA, Denmark.
Make sure to come back next week to read the testimonial from one teacher.