When you have diabetes, it is important to make yourself comfortable and safe during work hours. Consider these suggestions to help you successfully balance your diabetes and work responsibilities.
- Employers must make accommodations for people with diabetes to comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People with diabetes are entitled to certain standards of medical care. An employer should create an environment where you can eat regularly, get physical activity as well as take insulin and oral medications. You should be able to test your blood glucose throughout the day to avoid blood sugar fluctuations. People with diabetes need access to a restroom. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers additional information to employers about diabetes and the ADA.
- Determine a suitable place at work where you can store medications, insulin and food at a proper temperature. Certain policies might need to be modified to allow you to store and consume food on a schedule. Know when you have to eat, test your blood sugar and take medications. Find out where you can test your blood sugar and administer medications. Consider where you will dispose of needles and syringes. Ask about a rest area if you experience hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Have a can-do attitude that you are looking for solutions rather than focusing on problems. Make sure you feel part of the team.
- Consider special parking accommodations if you have neuropathy. Find out how to reduce or eliminate the need to work with sharp objects. Make sure you have protective equipment and clothing if your specific job requires it. Request the ability to sit or stand based on your current condition. Inquire about a shortened work day or extended work week. Job sharing is another possibility.
- If you have vision impairment, consider magnification devices or software to magnify the computer screen. Other possibilities are assistive technology, tactile graphics or Braille. If necessary, request the use of a service animal, digital voice recorder or qualified reader. A flexible schedule should be established if you use public transportation to and from work.
- Some people with diabetes have kidney problems. You need easy access to a restroom. It is also important to have a flexible schedule that permits time off for dialysis treatment if you have kidney disease. Telework is another possible solution.
- If diabetes causes cognitive or psychological limitations, an organizer and written job instructions can be helpful. It is also important to reduce stress and get time off for doctor appointments including counseling or therapy.
- Ensure you have a place to brush your teeth to avoid periodontal disease. The temperature should be properly regulated at the workplace if you have poor circulation. Test your blood pressure in a designated area with a blood pressure monitor.
- Discuss potential emergency situations with your boss and co-workers so they can easily identify the symptoms of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Even if you decide to exercise your right not to tell anyone you have diabetes, at least one person in your workplace should know about your condition. This person can be a trusted co-worker, supervisor or company nurse.
- Carry a snack with you in case you are hungry or need to boost your blood sugar. Have glucose tablets or shots available at all times when you are working. Make sure to get enough sleep every night so you are ready to do your best. Stay hydrated by keeping water on hand to sip throughout the day. Have healthy foods around such as granola bars, fruit and peanut butter or cheese crackers that won’t spoil in your desk drawer, locker or car. They are also handy during office celebrations to substitute for sugary snacks.
There are many considerations when you work and have diabetes. Planning ahead helps keep you healthier and more productive. Many people with diabetes work at several types of jobs and you can, too!