Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot adequately use the insulin it has produced. Insulin is the hormone that controls the level of glucose – a form of sugar – in the blood by regulating its movement through cells. Insulin is necessary because glucose is the main source of energy for the cells of the body.
Employers are generally required to accommodate employees with diabetes, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. Accommodations may include time and a private place to administer medications or perform blood sugar tests, the ability to keep food nearby, or a schedule of regular breaks to maintain a prescribed diet.
Other ways the center says employers can help are:
- Provide time for workers to get to their medical appointments.
- Include information about the prevention and management of diabetes in any workplace health or wellness program.
- Educate employees at all levels about diabetes so that they are aware of the needs of colleagues with the disease and know how to best meet them.
- Ask employees with diabetes which accommodations would suit them best. This can include an area where workers can rest until their blood sugar levels return to normal. “Not all people with diabetes will need the same accommodations. Some may need a private space to test their blood sugar levels or to give insulin injections, while others do not. “
- Modify an employee’s work schedule, if necessary.
- Make sure the internal first aid team is trained on how to help workers with diabetes.
- Remove sharp objects if insulin is administered with needles.
- Provide healthy food choices in cafeterias, vending machines, meetings, etc.