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Work in heights for employer with epilepsy

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Can the employer reject the applicant simply because he has epilepsy and will be required to work at heights? Is the employee entitled to accept a certain level of risk in relation to his condition?


No he cannot reject a person with this disability, in some conditions, the company uses this excuse for not employ someone with this conditions, even there’s any available vacancy without having the risk for him, this is called discrimination, and the Disability Discrimination Act, the Human Resources manager requested:

  • A management report on the practicalities and cost of eliminating the hazards from the post.
  • A specialist medical assessment of Steven’s prognosis and its relevance to the responsibilities of the post.

When it comes to safety, an employer should be careful not to act on the basis of myths, fears, generalizations, or stereotypes about epilepsy. Instead, the employer should evaluate each individual on his knowledge, skills, experience, and how having epilepsy affects him. In other words, an employer should determine whether a specific applicant or employee would pose a “direct threat” or significant risk of substantial harm to himself or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced through reasonable accommodation. This assessment must be based on objective, factual evidence, including the best recent medical evidence and advances to treat and control epilepsy.

For this cases, there’s always a solution, while the work in hazardous situations could not be eliminated, it could be substantially reduced with comparatively little cost by reallocating responsibilities involving working at heights to other members of the team and rescheduling duties in the vicinity of plant machinery to times when the machines would not be operating.


There’s responsibility of management to agree on making reasonable adjustments, and a review if circumstances changed, the residual risks to the applicant of accident or injury would be well below that accepted on a daily basis in activities and the risks to others would be negligible.

Many individuals with epilepsy will simply not discuss their condition because of their freedom from seizures, a high level of seizure control, or the fact that it doesn’t impact performance of the essential functions of the job. Some individuals with epilepsy will prefer to discuss their disability at the end of the interview as a matter of personal comfort or courtesy to the employer even if it is not required. However, they may need to discuss their condition if drug testing is a standard part of the employment screening process once a job offer is extended. The presence of anticonvulsant drugs can be misinterpreted during drug testing.

During the application and interview process, reasonable accommodations are generally not necessary for an individual with epilepsy. In the interview, however, some individuals may indicate that they need a specific type of accommodation in order to perform the essential functions of a job or to perform those functions more safely. As an employer, you should identify the essential functions of a job that an individual is required to do at your work place with or without reasonable accommodation.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide adjustments or modifications to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities unless doing so would be an undue hardship (i.e., a significant difficulty or expense). Accommodations vary depending on the needs of an individual with a disability. Not all employees with epilepsy will need an accommodation or require the same accommodation, and most of the accommodations a person with epilepsy might need will involve little or no cost.

In addition to restructuring job tasks, other examples of accommodation for individuals with epilepsy would include:

  • Installing a safety guard on a piece of machinery.


  • Installing some industrial rubber matting or carpeting in order to cover a concrete floor in a work area.
  • Scheduling consistent day work shifts for individuals whose seizures are exacerbated by inconsistent sleep patterns caused by rotating shifts and, in some cases, night shifts.
  • Allowing individuals to have an extended break or some time off after they have experienced a seizure while on the job.
  • Providing flame-retardant clothing for individuals working in an area in which a burn could be incurred during a seizure event and period of disorientation.
  • Provision of some type of safety helmet while on the job.

An employer may prohibit a person who has epilepsy from performing a job when it can show that the individual may pose a direct threat. In making a “direct threat” assessment, the employer must evaluate the individual’s present ability to safely perform the job.

The employer also should consider:

  • the duration of the risk;
  • the nature and severity of the potential harm;
  • the likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and,
  • the imminence of the potential harm. The harm also must be serious and likely to occur, not remote and speculative. Finally, the employer must determine whether any reasonable accommodation would reduce or eliminate the risk.
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Citar este texto en formato APA: _______. (2013). WEBSCOLAR. Work in heights for employer with epilepsy. https://www.webscolar.com/work-in-heights-for-employer-with-epilepsy. Fecha de consulta: 29 de marzo de 2020.

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