Employment and work life
It's natural to be concerned about how having osteoporosis may affect your job. But rest assured it doesn't always mean you need to stop working.
Your ability to do your job depends on whether:
- the kind of work you do increases your risk of breaking a bone
- you have pain and mobility problems, caused by the long-term impact of broken bones, that make it hard to carry out your role
If one or both apply to you, you may need to make some adjustments.
Do I need to tell my employer?
- don't have any pain or mobility problems, and
- don't need any adjustments to reduce your risk of breaking a bone
- you’re under no formal obligation to tell your employer.
If you feel you're unable to carry out tasks you were able to do previously, it’s very important that you do tell your employer. This protects you from unlawful discrimination on the grounds of disability. It’s best to talk to your line manager in the first instance.
You and your employer both have responsibilities under health and safety legislation:
- You have a duty to disclose any new symptoms and diagnoses that affect your work.
- Your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments within the workplace to accommodate your needs.
Adaptations in the workplace
The adaptations you might need depend on the nature of your job, and how osteoporosis is affecting you.
If your organisation has an occupational health department, you might be referred for an assessment. This lets you explain any difficulties you’re facing, so your employer can put the right support in place.
You may be able to continue in your role with a few simple adjustments to your working environment. It may be that flexible working arrangements work best for you.
If you continue to struggle carrying out your role after adjustments have been made, you need to become exempt from certain tasks. If this doesn’t work, reducing your hours may be the answer, or in some cases, changing your job.
Make sure you keep in close communication with your manager, occupational health and HR department. Throughout the process, so they can support you appropriately.
If you don’t feel your needs are being understood by your management, your HR team should be able to help. In rare circumstances, you may need to involve a trade union representative.
Adaptations to avoid broken bones
If you're risk of breaking a bone is high, adaptations can be made to reduce this risk in the workplace.
Helpful adaptations may include:
- Precautions to prevent falls, such as no working at heights
- Precautions to help prevent spinal breaks, such as reducing the size of loads, decreasing repetitive bending, twisting and turning, and increasing rest periods to lessen the chance of unsafe lifting
Adaptations to cope with pain
If the long-term impact of broken bones are causing you pain or fatigue at work, there are some simple measures that might help:
- Try to vary tasks throughout the day, so you don’t spend too long in one position.
- Alternate between sitting and standing or walking, and pay attention to your posture.
- Avoid any activity that causes pain and always use the equipment provided, even if you’re currently pain free.
If you’re using strong pain-relieving medication, you should discuss this with your manager. There may be company policies and safety issues.