Think creatively to avoid permanent disability

An assembly line employee — who was diagnosed at an early age with a severe condition that resulted in partial paralysis — was having difficulty moving to various workstations. Her health had declined to the point where she was unstable on her feet and could have risked a fall and/or other serious injury.

Her human resources (HR) manager contacted the Workplace Possibilities program, and the creative thinking began.

Thoroughly assessing the situation
A Workplace Possibilities vocational case manager worked with the HR manager to get an understanding of the employee’s job responsibilities, workstation layout and to learn more about her condition. Then, an industrial ergonomist made an on-site visit to the job site to collaborate on a work flow analysis with the employer, line engineers and HR.

Creating a custom solution
Thanks to the work flow analysis, we decided the employee would benefit from a scooter to help her move to her assembly stations without falling. But this couldn’t be just any scooter. It needed to accomplish a few things:

  • Be the correct height for her to reach her work surfaces
  • Double as a stool that would help maintain circulation in her lower body because she’d be sitting for long periods of time
  • Feature adjustable armrests so she could get close to the equipment

I’m often asked how these accommodations are paid for. In this case, the cost of the scooter was covered under the Reasonable Accommodation Expense Benefit of her employer’s group disability insurance policy.

Now, the employee doesn’t seem afraid of falling at work, and she was able to sidestep a long-term or permanent disability — something she adamantly wanted to avoid. With a little creative thinking, the employer was able to successfully retain a valued and beloved employee.

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