Safe Work Australia Releases Online Fact Sheet on Endometriosis Work Safety

With about one in ten women suffering from endometriosis, it’s vital that both employers and employees know how to handle the condition in the workplace. Safe Work Australia has released an online fact sheet on endometriosis to achieve this goal.

Safe Work Australia has released an online fact sheet on endometriosis to educate employers who have workers with endometriosis, as well as help workers who have endometriosis learn how to manage their condition at work. This is part of the country’s National Action Plan.

Endometriosis is a chronic disease where cells similar to those that line the uterus (the endometrium) are found in other parts of the body. There is no known cure for endometriosis and the cause is unknown, but once diagnosed, may people will have endometriosis effectively managed, according to the Jean Hailes website. The condition is relatively common, with approximately one in 10 women suffering from the disease.

The fact sheet explains that as an employer, the main responsibility is to discuss your employee’s condition with them if they bring it up, and to find out how best to accommodate them to ensure they can do their work as safely as possible. It says these accommodations could include adequate access to toilets and rest facilities or increased time off. It also states that the disability could cause the employee to have reduced attention levels and fatigue, which could easily cause injuries while working in a capacity where using heavy machinery is required. Therefore, the proper accommodations must be given to these workers to ensure the safety of themselves and others.

The fact sheet includes a six-step guild to supporting and accommodating workers with endometriosis, including:

  • Building a supportive workplace culture
  • Starting a conversation
  • Medical Certificates
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Job modifications
  • Policies and procedures

Since endometriosis, if serious enough, can amount to a physical disability, it’s against the law to discriminate or harass a person in employment about their disability. Discrimination can include a failure to comply with reasonable accommodations for the employee with the condition.

In terms of being an employee with endometriosis, the sheet states it is the employee’s responsibility to know how bad their condition is so that they can express their needs to their employer, and ensure that no one is put at risk by their disability.

It also states that if you discuss your disability with your employer, you have rights in regards to your privacy and freedom to be not be harassed or discriminated against at work.

There are a few different resources for employees looking to learn about their rights, including the Office of Australian Information Commissioner website, www.humanrights.gov.au, www.fairwork.gov.au, and the Safe Work Australia website.

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