Finding the right job is never an easy task. This is especially true when you’re moving from the military to civilian work. Veterans can be a wonderful addition to your civilian workforce. These are hard working, loyal, dedicated individuals, who have spent part of their career fighting to keep our country safe. Some veterans re-enter the workforce with a unique set of physical disabilities, which will require updates to your existing workplace to make it more disability-friendly.
Setting up an Ergonomic Workplace for an Individual with a Disability
The principles of an ergonomic workstation for a person with a disability are the same as for a non-disabled person. In fact, according to Military.com, most workers with disabilities do not require special accommodations. Those that do, 20% cost nothing, and 50% cost under $500.
In essence, you want to be sure that the employee has furniture and equipment that supports proper posture; the ability to change position frequently throughout the day; and, if it’s a computer station, the monitor, keyboard and mouse positioned so that there is no arm, back, or neck strain. The American Chiropractic Association has said that more workdays are missed because of back pain than any other ailment. The good news is that this is preventable – according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), these injuries are alleviated with proper adjustments to chairs, desks, monitors and keyboards.
For a veteran with a disability, you might wish to provide an ergonomic workplace that includes assistive technology. You can do this by offering an alternative keyboard or mouse/pointing device that helps to facilitate computer use. Another product to look into is an adjustable monitor arm that will allow the user to adjust the monitor setup to them, not the other way around.
How do I know what a disabled veteran needs?
The first step in setting up a disability-friendly workplace for a veteran is the simplest – ask! When you’re ready to hire an applicant, it’s a good idea to ask, “What do you need to do your job?” Remember that a physical disability may or may not be obvious. When you ask this question, you’re letting the applicant know that yours is a disability-friendly and welcoming workplace.
Payroll and benefits company ADP offers some insight into creating an ergonomic, disability-friendly workplace. They advocate for getting proactive and managing the causes of workplace stress and injury. This means having a team of employees at all levels give their input to what needs to happen to have the safest workplace environment.
Remember, too, that there are lots of resources for hiring veterans. Fortunately for everyone, there are plenty of well-researched and tested ergonomic solutions available to make your workplace work – for everyone.