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When the tea-break becomes hard work


In a report to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) the RFA and Ergonomics Research and Design Company highlights that everyday activities cause major difficulties for millions of disabled people.

The UK has over 6.5 million disabled people, and to give an example of how such people can be excluded, the report suggests that upto a million of these people would be unable to open a jam jar.

Many businesses do not take account of such difficulties when working with their staff, and many of the difficulties could be overcome by better design work. Whilst a tea-break is common for most workers, a disabled person may have difficulties if the employer provides a kettle for employees to make their own drinks, they may also experience problems opening a milk-carton or taking celoophane wrappers off a packet of tea bags.

Many disabled people cannot carry out twisting, pulling, or lifting movements with their hands. This inability effectively excludes them from accessing facilities that other workers may take as normal. Disabled workers may well keep quiet about their difficulties believing that employers will think of them as being petty, despite the difficulties causing real pain.

The report highlighted the following products causing difficulties for the disabled:

kettles, tea-bag packaging, milk packaging, cereal packaging, bread packaging, margarine containers, refrigerators, jam jars, plastic drink bottles, cheese packaging, shoe polish tins, instant drink packaging, ironing boards, microwave meal packaging and vacuum cleaners.


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