Epilepsy is an illness that impacts many people around the world. It’s a condition that can have serious implications for a person’s wellbeing as well as their lifestyle. As an employer, preparing your office for those with conditions such as this is a good idea. Here’s how you can make your office safe for epilepsy.
Know What Epilepsy Is
Before you can make changes to the office to assist someone who has epilepsy you need to understand what the condition is and how it can affect the employee. Epilepsy is a neurological condition that can cause people to have seizures. The severity and frequency of seizures can vary; however, this is something you will need to be aware of in the office.
When asking an employee about their illness, find out their medication requirements and whether they need ambulatory EEG and routine monitoring services in the office. It’s important to ask how often they have seizures and any other symptoms they have.
Know the Triggers
Because epilepsy is something that impacts the brain, there are specific triggers that set off a seizure that needs to be brought to your attention. You may already be aware that strobing lights can be a massive trigger for epileptic seizures, but other things can trigger a seizure to be mindful of. It’s essential to know the warning signs and causes:
- Computer screens
Know What to do During and After a Seizure
Preparing to prevent a seizure by changing office conditions is only the first step when dealing with a patient. If your employee were to fall and have a seizure in the office, you would need to know what to do during the seizure and how to help them rest and recover afterward.
Talk to the employee and get their advice and also think about asking them some important questions. Make sure you have a rest and recovery room set up for the employee and make sure you know what their process for recovery is, sometimes this will be sleep or even to continue working and get on with the day.
Plan it Out
It is always important to be prepared for an episode such as a seizure, and you need to have a plan of action in place when this happens. A helpful thing would be to have a cupboard in the office that was filled with items such as pillows, blankets, medication, and anything else the employee will need.
Have a quiet spot ready to be used after a seizure, and make sure the other employees all know how to handle the situation in case it happens when you are not there.
It is important to remember that just because an employee might have a medical condition, doesn’t mean they are not able to perform the essential functions and doesn’t affect their ability to perform well. When devising a work schedule for someone who has epilepsy, talk to them, and see what duties they are willing to do. Make sure that your job does not involve any driving, and be sure that the employee is always in a room with others to keep them safe when something happens.
Improve Their Desk
A workspace should be suitable for any person working there. When dealing with someone who has epilepsy, it is essential to think about the office space and desk area in terms of comfort and safety. These are the things you want to look out for on the desk:
- LED computer monitor
- A comfortable and supportive chair
- Curved desk edges
- Wireless headset for phone calls
- Space underneath the desk
Use a Buddy System
One constructive way to ensure that the employee suffering from epilepsy is safe at all times is to implement a buddy system in the office. This will mean someone is paired up with the sufferer at all times, and they can both wear alarms that will go off when the person with epilepsy sets it off or falls and has a seizure. This ensures that someone is always aware of what is going on, and the person can be kept as safe as possible.
Have a Lift
One of the handy ways to improve the safety of your office building if you have a multi-story space is to install an elevator. When climbing stairs, this can become a trigger for a seizure, and if they fall, there can be a lot of damage. This is why instead of having a lift for them to travel is safer, and it will ensure that they do not run the risk of a seizure.
Ensure an Accessible Toilet
Every workplace should have an accessible toilet for those who need it, but if your office doesn’t have one yet, you need to install one. This will ensure that if the employee goes into a seizure while in the toilets, they will have enough space to move without banging their head on something, and they will be able to pull the emergency cord to alert you to their presence.
Educate Your Office Staff on Epilepsy
It is essential when you bring someone into the workplace, who has an illness such as this that you educate your existing staff about the condition. If they don’t truly understand what the situation is and how it impacts a person, they might think you are giving special treatment.
You also need to think about what would happen if they have a seizure while you are not in the room. Ensure everyone knows how to act when there is a seizure and how to keep the sufferer safe.
Have an Evacuation Plan
The stress of evacuating a building for a fire alarm can be enough to set off a seizure, and this is why you need to consider what you do in terms of this. Create a plan that allows for gentle movement and minimal use of stairs where possible for a safe getaway.
There are many ways you can prepare your work environment for someone who has epilepsy and ensure that they can work and feel safe in your care.
Alyson Pittman is a contributing writer for WBD and a JR marketing associate for Excite Creative Studios, an Atlanta-based creative agency.
Alyson graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelors of Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing. She was in multiple organizations at KSU where she held leadership positions. As a part of the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, Alyson held the Social Coordinator position and planned/promoted large events.