SAIF Briefing Note: Managing Diabetes at Work

October 13, 2014   //   No Comments

Diabetes is becoming more of a common health condition affecting thousands of people in the workplace.  Employers who are aware an employee has the condition can provide support and small adjustments to maximise their health and safety.

Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body is not able to regulate its glucose levels.  There are two main types of diabetes.

  • Type 1is where the body is not able to produce insulin on its own, to manage glucose levels.  This usually first develops in children or young adults.
  • Type 2is the most common type of diabetes.  In this condition, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or the cells in the body become resistant to normal levels of insulin and can’t use the insulin correctly.  Several factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  These factors include: age, weight, body fat distribution, lack of physical activity, family history and ethnicity.

Person's Hands Pricking Their Finger with a Glaucometer

Most people manage their diabetes, but if their blood level falls below a certain level, a hypoglycaemia attack can develop.  This can be caused by missing a meal or snack, over-exertion without taking account of extra sugar needs or accidental overdose of medication.   The majority of diabetics know when their blood sugar levels have dropped and have time to do something about it.  The typical signs of a hypoglycaemia attack are hunger, trembling, shakiness, nausea and sweating.  In very severe causes hypoglycaemia can lead to confusion, irrational behaviour and even seizures or loss of consciousness.

There is no legal requirement for an employee to tell their employer that they have diabetes.  However asking for an employee to declare it on a pre-employment questionnaire or after diagnosis and discussing their condition with them can help you understand more about the condition.

SAIF Members may read the full briefing note on Managing Diabetes at Work, provided by Simon Bloxham of the OSS Group.  Simply logon to the Members Area, select the Health & Safety tab then scroll down to the OSS Updates section.  Alternatively, click here.

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