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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
October 8, 2009

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Let’s work together to help arthritis sufferers

Employer understanding is a key factor in helping workers with arthritis keep their jobs, with flexible working and a sympathetic attitude by bosses the forms of support most valued by affected employees.

These are the findings of a survey by UK charity Arthritis Care carried out to mark World Arthritis Day today (12 October). Of those who responded to the survey who are still in work despite having arthritis, an emphatic 75 per cent said their employer had provided reasonable adjustments when requested.

A worrying 70 per cent of the survey’s non-working respondents directly blamed leaving their job on their arthritis. Almost two-thirds of these (64 per cent) said they had requested reasonable adjustments from their employer but only one in three of these (36 per cent) actually got them.

Said Arthritis Care’s director of public affairs, Rachel Haynes: “Our poll shows an inescapable link between an employer’s support for someone with arthritis and their ability to stay in work. Arthritis is the UK’s biggest cause of physical disability, and more must be done to enable people with the condition to have a full working life, not existence on disability benefit by default.”

The charity is now using the results to launch an ‘Employers’ Pledge’, urging bosses across the UK to affirm their commitment to improving life at work for people with arthritis. 

Added Haynes: “Although times are tough in today’s market, businesses should strive for inclusive workforces that genuinely reflect our society. This Pledge provides an opportunity for them to become better employers. Many bosses aren’t even aware of government support schemes like Access to Work, or how simple it can be to make adjustments for staff that need them. For example, giving employees with arthritis a supportive chair, or flexible hours to help them dodge the rush-hour crush, can make all the difference in helping them to stay working.”

IOSH supported the findings, saying many workers are “excluded” from the workplace when health problems arise, even though they may still be capable of work. Said president, Nattasha Freeman: “Health and safety professionals can help to identify health problems people have, and refer them to an expert who, may prevent them leaving the workplace on sickness absence.

”If we become better at identifying people’s problems, and obtaining the correct treatment as early as possible, we have a good chance of preventing the problem becoming so serious that the individual has to leave the workplace for a lengthy period. This helps the employer too, as it reduces the costs associated with sickness absence and loss of production.”

For the week of World Arthritis Day, Arthritis Care’s free helpline will offer a special ‘Work’ service for anyone with questions about arthritis in the workplace, and a free information pack for callers. To find out more, visit

World Arthritis Day is organised by People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe (PARE) and is held every year. It aims to raise awareness of arthritis, influence public policy and ensure all arthritis patients and carers are aware of support networks available to them. This year it is themed ‘Let’s Work Together’.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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