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Reasonable adjustments are not just for workers returning to work from a period of absence from illness or injury, they are for all workers.

Workplaces have a legal responsibly under Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to work for workers with:

  • physical, psychological or neurological disease or disorder

  • illness, whether temporary or permanent

  • injury, including work-related injuries.

Workplace reasonable adjustments are changes to the work environment or conditions that allow people to work safely and productively.

Man sitting a desk with his hands on his head looking frustrated with a hard hat on the desk

Making changes is beneficial for both the workm8te and the workplace, as they can:

  • prevent health conditions and injuries from worsening,

  • improve and maintain a safe and positive culture, and

  • assist in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce

Don’t know where to start?

Remember, it is not a one-size fits all approach.

  • What works for one worker may not for another – even if their issue is the same. Before making adjustments, you must understand the demands of the worker’s role, including their physical and health demands. Focus on what works needs to be accomplished rather than how.

  • Adjustments should be tailored to meet the individual worker’s needs and circumstances and should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the worker remains safe and effective at work.

  • Reasonable adjustments may include changes to work hours, additional rest breaks, job rotation, new equipment or PPE, technological assistance or training, and education to address attitudes and culture in the workplace. Take a look at some examples below.

  • Changes may be temporary or long term and should be tailored to the individual.

Use the following as a guide to talk through what changes might be needed for your worker to perform at their best.

Guide to making reasonable adjustments at work

As a safe and effective leader take action early to prevent injury, and support your workm8tes to come back to work after an injury, by making reasonable adjustments to how work is done.

  1. Don’t make assumptions about what the worker will find challenging, let them tell you.

  2. Talk about what their strengths are, what they enjoy about their job and how this can be leveraged.

  3. Focus the discussion on helping your worker identify their challenges, stressors or potential difficulties.

  4. Work through possible solutions together. Focus on what needs to be accomplished rather than the how. What are the core requirements of the role? Is there anything that can’t be altered?

  5. Identify any disruptions likely to occur to either other workers or workflow. Inform impacted workers and modify work processes to accommodate the changes.

  6. Agree a timeframe for introducing any adjustments.

  7. Check-in weekly to discuss issues as they arise.

  8. Adjustments are often not ongoing forever. Agree with the worker when you will re-assess the current adjustments.

Here are some examples of reasonable adjustments

Remember, it is not a one-size fits all approach, and what works for one worker may not for another – even if their issue is the same.

​Flexible hours and location

​Part-time work or split shifts

Shift scheduling changes (for example no nights or early mornings)

More frequent breaks

Support a graduated return to work if the worker has been on sick leave

If a worker has been absent for a period, make sure they do not return to a back-log of work

Environmental adjustments: noise, light, airflow, vibration, temperature

​Reduce workload or modify tasks

Vary tasks to avoid repetitive actions

Allow for a self-paced workload

Establish goals, prompts, reminders and checklists to assist workers with time-management and staying on top of their workload so they can achieve what they have to do

​Schedule highly structured days, and avoid last minute requests and changes for workers who need structure

​Modify instructions, reference materials or the way feedback is given

Allow extra time to learn tasks

​Provide a reader or interpreter

​Provide additional training or mentoring

​Provide additional supervision or support

​Make changes to supervision arrangements

Modify performance-related pay arrangements

​Adjust redundancy selection criteria to avoid disadvantaging workers who have had to take additional sick leave

Reallocate work within the team while capitalising on each worker's strengths

Allow private phone calls throughout the day

Allow time off during working hours for necessary appointments

Accessible parking spaces

Appropriate height for lockers, workstations and equipment for those that cannot easily access items close to the ground or at a height

Extra, modified or specialised equipment, tools, workstation, chair or fixtures

Adjustments to work vehicles (for example, hand controls)

Adaptive equipment in the workplace (for example, braille device, lifting equipment)

Communication devices (for example, software, PDAs, voice recorders, smartphones, tablets and laptops)

Moving furniture, widening doorways or installing ramps so workers with mobility aids can get around comfortably and safely

Visit the WorkWell Toolkit for more information about workplace’s legal obligations for return to work.

Want to know more about good job design in manufacturing?

Take a look at the guide we've made for you, and take our online assessment to get a tailored action plan and create no stress, safe and rewarding jobs for your workm8tes.



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