American Diabetes Month – The Employer’s Role

american-diabetes-month

November is American Diabetes month. According to the American Diabetes Association, one in 11 Americans has diabetes and every 21 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes. With investment in research, education, and prevention, we can improve the lives of all those affected with diabetes. Since people suffering from diabetes can be found in the workplace, employers can help by providing diabetes management education and support for their employees, and help them manage their conditions and remain productive workers.

Know the symptoms of diabetes

Symptoms are provided by the American Diabetes Association:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry – even when eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet

Early detection of these symptoms along with treatment can decrease the risk of developing major complications associated with diabetes.

What employers can do about diabetes

Employers can take an active role to help manage and prevent diabetes by:

  • Offering a supportive work environment where employees feel comfortable performing behaviors to manage their condition (taking insulin shots, monitoring blood pressure, etc.)
  • Providing opportunities for all employees to live healthier lifestyles to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes
  • Providing healthy food at company functions
  • Educating employees on prevention and early detection methods
  • Increasing awareness about blood sugar management
  • Educating employees by outlining their covered benefits, services, and supplies provided to control their disease

Reasonable accommodations for an employee with diabetes

If an employee requests modification because diabetes is affecting their work and major life activities, and employer can provide reasonable accommodations by:

  • Providing a private area to test blood sugar levels or take insulin
  • Allowing a place to rest until blood sugar levels become normal
  • Offering short breaks to ear or drink, take medication or test blood sugar levels
  • Allowing an employee to leave for treatment
  • Modifying work schedules or shift changes

 

Diabetes can have a major impact on a company. The condition can cause increased healthcare costs and take a toll on productivity if it is not properly managed. However, it is important for employers to avoid discriminating against employees with diabetes. Instead, providing diabetes management education and support for your employees can help manage conditions and keep employees healthy and productive!