Preventive work for an accessible work environment

The employer is responsible for there being a functioning organisation at the workplace to investigate, risk-assess, take steps to fix and to follow up different shortcomings and risks in the work environment. The aim is to prevent ill health and accidents.

Create prerequisites for an accessible work environment

The employer has a significant role in creating good work environment relationships and a permissive and open working climate for all staff. The employer should also, with the help of organisational measures, see that all are able to participate in social intercourse at the workplace.

It is also vital that there are prerequisites to be able to do a good job, so that the employees can influence their own work situation, receive feedback, and also that there are possibilities for development, variation and job satisfaction.

These aspects promote good health for all staff, but are particularly important for persons with some type of vulnerability. Vulnerability can be about some form of illness, injury or another condition that means that one needs to compensate for a functional limitation.

An accessible work environment is good for everyone

Because prerequisites and needs are different, it is of great importance that employees and employers, in open dialogue with each other, reason themselves forward to suitable solutions. To meet each other with respect, explore different alternatives, follow up, show interest, wish to understand, and work for a work environment that functions as well as possible are, in themselves, powerful tools.

The balance between activity and rest is one of the most significant factors for stamina and performance during the working day for people with some form of injury or illness. There is, consequently, a need to be able to regulate tiredness by taking breaks during the working day, adjusting working hours and varying working tasks, as well as having understanding of one’s own working situation. For some, regular mealtimes and an even daily rhythm are of great importance.

How can I, as an employer, work with an accessibility perspective?

Through taking accessibility questions up in the systematic work environment management, you can, at an early stage, identify and handle risks at the workplace before they result in absence due to illness, and sick listing. With the help of systematics, you can discover circumstances that can lead to ill health. To organise the activities so that all become participants in the preventive work strengthens the possibilities of achieving an accessible work environment.

A good way to introduce work with accessibility, is to discuss the questions:

  • what is preventing everyone from working here?
  • is the workplace characterised by mutual respect and tolerance?
  • are we thinking preventively in our daily work environment management?
  • which norms and values govern the workplace?

Cognition in the work environment

Cognition is about how we take in, process and remember information, analyse, draw conclusions and solve problems. Cognition is complex and consists of many functions, for example attention/concentration, memory, perception, language, the ability to plan and organise thoughts and behaviour. Persons with reduced cognitive ability are a mixed group. One can have high intellectual capacity even if one has a problem with, for example, concentration, language, and memory, or cannot read a map. Difficulties can naturally be of varying degrees. Furthermore, many of us have temporary limitations, at least within attention, concentration, fatigue, pain, stress and worry which all influence our ability to concentrate. Reduced concentration leads, in its turn, to the learning of new things being more difficult.

Cognitive aspects in the work environment are, among other things, about being able to work undisturbed and thereby not having our train of thought interrupted when one needs to focus on demanding work tasks. The same applies to working memory, which has a limited capacity. We need working memory for most of the working tasks we carry out, and it is therefore of great importance that working memory is not eaten up by unnecessary disturbances so that it can be used for that which is essential.

A calendar, smartphone and computer are suitable to use in order to unburden the memory. To remember times one can use reminder alarms so that meetings, for example, are not forgotten.

Instructions need to be given in different ways

The employer needs to be aware that everyone takes in knowledge and instructions in different ways. If instructions are given orally in a confusing environment and perhaps also under stress, the possibilities for all to understand them are reduced, and particularly for those who have difficulties concentrating or who are sensitive to stress. Instructions issued only in writing can be difficult to understand for those who have reading and writing difficulties. Information via images and film are often easier to both take in and remember.

Last updated 2015-09-10