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From a workplace perspective, a diagnosis of diabetes can affect a person’s ability to gain employment in the first place or maintain employment/current role within some professions. Generally, occupations that have restrictions in place for people with diabetes are where hypoglycaemia could put an employee’s safety, or that of their co-workers or the general public, at risk. Jobs that currently have potential workplace restrictions for people with diabetes include:

  • Australian Armed Forces
  • Police Force, Fire and Ambulance Services
  • Transport of passengers (e.g. bus, tram, train, coach, mini bus)
  • Transporting hazardous materials or large cargos (e.g. oil/gas/petrol, chemicals, heavy goods vehicles/truck drivers)
  • Working at heights (including using ladders and working on buildings e.g. construction workers)
  • Jobs involving the use of ANY potentially dangerous machinery
  • Working offshore
  • Prison Service
  • Taxi drivers
  • Pilots and cabin crew

Restrictions often vary depending on the type of diabetes and the current treatment regime1.

Therefore, a course in diabetes awareness is imperative for people working in these industries/occupations as their job may be at risk if they develop diabetes or they may face workplace restrictions due to having the condition.

In addition, for those people who are required to treat their blood glucose levels with diabetes medication, there is a risk that blood sugar levels could be lowered to a level which impacts on the brains ability to function normally. This is known as hypoglycaemia and can result in a number of symptoms from faintness, drowsiness and loss of concentration through to slurred speech, delayed reflexes, seizures and eventually loss of consciousness2.

This obviously has huge implications in any workplace environment across all industry sectors, for employers, employees, work colleagues and customers/general public. Also, diabetes awareness is essential for people operating in a custodial role or a caring, health or fitness related capacity such as fitness instructors, teachers, prison officers, police officers, and disability/health/community/aged care workers and nurses.

Type 2 diabetes is preventable in approximately 60% of all cases with diet, exercise and lifestyle choices being the main factors. Therefore, diabetes awareness education and training addressing these factors is essential in the workforce today and for a healthier workforce in the future.

Additional reasons for employers and employees to be aware of diabetes include the fact that if a person develops diabetes, they are TWICE as likely to suffer a heart attack as compared to people without diabetes and Twice as likely to develop depression. Diabetes is also the leading cause of sight loss/blindness, kidney failure/disease and limb amputation. These additional complications due to diabetes, add additional burden on a persons’ ability to work effectively in their job, or at all.

1Diabetes Australia. An employee’s guide to diabetes in the workplace Available at: http://www.diabetesvic.org.au/images/stories/newsletter/employee_guide/. 2CSIRO and Baker IDI, Diabetes Diet and Lifestyle Plan, Penguin Group (Australia), 2011:66

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© Copyright 2012 Ian P McAllister, DiabetesCollege.com.  All Rights Reserved.

The “Certificate II in Understanding & Management of Diabetes” (10046NAT) is written by Ian P McAllister and nationally accredited by ASQA.

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