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Fit at work

Autor: Magdalena Gajda Konsultacja: Barbara Makowska, psycholog, konsultant Miejskiego Zespołu ds. Orzekania o Niepełnosprawności w Warszawie, tłumaczenie: Michał Landsberger
Źródło: Dodatek Praca nr 2/2007

Polish employers are reluctant to hire people suffering from epilepsy as their knowledge about the disease is still very limited.

Epilepsy (or a seizure disorder) is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. Seizures are caused by abnormal, excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain and usually last no more than three minutes. Symptoms of an attack vary from mild alterations in mental state (loss of memory, feeling of anxiety, jamais vu or deja vu) to sudden contractions of muscles, convulsions or loss of consciousness. In most cases, the disease can be successfully controlled using drugs which prevent the attacks and allow the patient to have a normal life. The greatest obstacle facing an epileptic trying to find work is usually the employers' ignorance and resultant prejudice.

Where an epileptic CANNOT work
It depends on the type of epilepsy. As a rule, epileptics are not allowed to work in factories or in public transport. They cannot work at heights or with dangerous materials, they also should not operate heavy machinery. On the other hand, they are perfectly capable of performing office work.

What must an employer know before hiring an epileptic
What kind of epilepsy does he or she suffer from? How does an attack manifest itself and how often does it occur? How long does it last and how much time does it take for an epileptic to recover? How to react in case of an attack? Does an epileptic take any drugs and if so, what are their side effects? Does he or she need any special amenities, such as a soft chair or a protective desktop pad? Furthermore, a prospective employer should also consult an occupational safety and health specialist, an occupational advisor or a psychologist to assess whether a person suffering from epilepsy is capable of performing a given task. An epileptic's colleagues must be trained in first aid in case of an attack and the office must be equipped with a first aid kit.
First aid in case of an epileptic fit

  • put something soft, e.g. a sweater, under an epileptic's head to prevent injury
  • lay him on his side
  • do not put hard object into his mouth
  • do not give him any medicine, drink or food
  • if the attack lasts more than three minutes, call an ambulance
  • it is safe for an epileptic to sleep after the attack – do not force him to stay awake



Artykuł powstał w ramach projektu "Integracja - Praca. Wydawnicza kampania informacyjno-promocyjna"
współfinansowanego z Europejskiego Funduszu Społecznego w ramach Sektorowego Programu Operacyjnego Rozwój Zasobów Ludzkich.

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