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Does your employer take diabetes seriously?

Education, flexibility, training and risk assessment are some ways that employers up and down the country can provide support to diabetic employees.

Health and safety experts at CE Safety have revealed actionable steps for employers to ensure that they have the correct workplace procedures to deal with a diabetic emergency.

It is World Diabetes Day on November 14th, prompting CE Safety to offer guidance about first aid and diabetes in the workplace. With 4.8 million people in the UK living with diabetes, employers should be clued up and support staff who have the disease.

This is especially important in the time of Covid-19, as research has revealed that people with diabetes are at greater risk of dying from the virus. People with diabetes should be taking steps to look after themselves to avoid complications, such as maintaining healthy blood sugar targets and staying fit and healthy.

It is a basic minimum standard to ensure workplaces are risk assessed and suitable for diabetics.

A spokesperson for CE Safety says: “Diabetes is a lifelong serious condition and involves having to control the blood glucose levels in the body to stop it getting too high, which can be dangerous. Among the different types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2 are the most common.

“Huge efforts to raise awareness about the chronic condition are being made around the globe, and not without reason. The statistics on people who already have the disease are stark enough, however, experts also believe there are more than 13 million people in the UK who are at risk or already have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

“The team at CE Safety deliver health and safety training in the workplace and feel passionate about ensuring every place of work has the correct procedures and policies to look after their staff.”

Here are practical steps for business owners to support employees with diabetes:

Open up the conversation

Allowing the conversation to open up, and having an honest chat around diabetes can help in a variety of ways. It can improve the mental health and wellbeing of the employee; remove any discrimination; employers can gain an understanding of how staff are coping, and provide a forum to outline initiatives and measures which everyone gains from.

Educate yourself on the disease

There are alarming numbers of people out there who don’t even understand the disease they’re living with, so it’s unlikely that employers without diabetes will fully understand it. There are many resources out there so a quick read will give you a lot of insight. For example, did you know that there’s a link between diabetes and depression?

Be flexible

Understanding what your staff with diabetes need, means you can then put measures in place to help them. Be accommodating for attending healthcare appointments for starters, but also support them around working hours, any modified equipment they need or simply show patience for when the disease becomes debilitating. It’s not easy to balance work with managing a disease. 

Provide privacy

Staff with diabetes may need to take injections of insulin or check blood sugar levels throughout the working day. Give them a private and clean space to do this, which will provide peace of mind and inclusivity, and even reduce stress.

Revisit working practices

Do your terms allow for assessing a worker on an individual basis? For example, some employees may benefit from flexible working patterns or a higher level of sick leave. Diabetes can cause short and long term complications, so factor this into any relevant policies.

Train your staff in first aid

Your workforce should know what to do in an emergency situation, but do they know what to do in a diabetic emergency? Pass on the information you have gathered. 

Do a diagnostic diabetes risk assessment

Get the overall picture of your workforce. Understand the full health picture of your staff, then you can take steps towards pinning down your approach, ensuring the workplace is prepared, safe and supportive to those who need it.

Look at your company culture

As well as supporting people who already have diabetes, there are many improvements employers can make to do their bit in eradicating the disease. We know there is plenty that can be done to avoid getting type 2 diabetes. Promote healthier choices in available food and drink, encourage work-life balance and exercise, and have policies around mental wellbeing.

Stop sitting down

A study in the journal Diabetologia discovered that people who sit still for long periods of time double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if they exercise too.

The NHS says many adults in the UK sit for about nine hours a day, and that living a sedentary lifestyle is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and early death.

Because many people spend hours sitting at a desk while at work, employers should be finding ways to reverse this problem. For example, encourage people to take the stairs, set reminders to stand, create standing workstations, go for a walk while speaking on the phone or regular coffee breaks.

For further information on diabetes and first aid, please see –


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