It is estimated that more than two million working age Australians have a disability, representing 17% of all working age people in the country.
The Australian Safety and Compensation Council says this is a resource Australia cannot afford to overlook “as current skills and labour shortages threaten to undermine Australia’s economic growth, the Australian Government is developing strategies to optimise workforce participation, including people with disability,” says the ASCC.
“Contrary to common perceptions by employers that people with disability pose an increased OHS risk in their workplace, our research shows that the opposite is true,” says the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s commissioner responsible for disability discrimination, Graeme Innes, AM.
One Australian company that is responding to the call for greater adaptation of workplaces for workers with disability is Caredesign, which is introducing new ranges of kitchen and bathroom products to accommodate people of all levels of height and mobility, including those in wheelchairs.
Caredesign's new range of Pressalit Care electrically driven lifts for kitchen worktops and wall cupboards has been introduced by to enhance the safety and comfort of kitchen workers, the physically handicapped, older people and their carers.
The unique lifts contained within telescopic legs and behind cupboard fittings enable people of different stature and physical capabilities to adjust the height of worktops and cupboards so they can carry out as many functions as possible without assistance, whether standing or seated.
“Not only does equipment such as this benefit people with disability, but it is also an asset to all people in a workplace because it helps minimise accidents caused by stretching and resulting slip and fall incidents,” says Caredesign national product manager, Tim Knowles.
The functional and robust design, actuated by simple and safe switching equipment, also enhances the comfort and safety of professional and voluntary carers involved with workers with disability, as well as kitchen workers, caterers, teachers, nurses and others supporting people with disability.
The modular lifts can be incorporated into a virtually limitless range of standard and custom-fabricated cupboards and worktops, permitting professional and private users to combine them with the furniture of their choice, taste and professional requirements.
They can comply with both OHS and personal needs without needing to have any institutional feel at all, says Mr Knowles.
“Kitchen furnishings often need to be adapted to different users with widely different needs, including private and commercial kitchens, communal kitchens and training kitchens in which several people with different capabilities must be able to work together comfortably at the same time. Kitchens in individual homes must also accommodate self-reliant users and helpers as the needs of the individual change,” he says.
Worktops and wall cupboards are adjusted to a comfortable height using switches on the worktop front. Worktops can be adjusted vertically 400mm. Wall cupboards can be moved diagonally, both vertically and forwards. From its highest position, the cupboard can be moved 350mm downwards and 150mm forwards.
Safety features include shielding (unobtrusive plates and pressure-sensitive safety bars) designed to prevent injury in operation. These incorporate the extensive experience of the Danish-designed Pressalit Care ranges of kitchen and bathroom products, which are designed to a philosophy that impaired mobility need not limit a person’s life.
The lifts are built as modules, which makes them easy to transport and install. It also means the lifts can be adapted to the vast majority of worktops and wall cupboards, says Mr Knowles.
“Being able to adjust the height of worktops and wall cupboards is a great help for almost everyone. The new Pressalit Care lifts mean you can design your own height adjustable kitchen. Many users need both vertical and horizontal adjustment because their physical situation changes, alternating between being independent and requiring assistance; switching between walking and sitting.”
The Pressalit Care system incorporates both kitchen products and a complete range of bathroom products, including manually or electrically actuated adjustable basins and toilet brackets, raised toilet seats, adjustable change tables, support arms, seats, storage containers, modular shelves and baskets, handrails, curtain rails, shower rails, corridor rails, shower heads and tapware.
The broad Pressalit Care support system helps break down barriers for people who might benefit from some physical support but who are alienated by the prospect of care products that are institutional in appearance and cumbersome to install and use.
Pressalit Care electrically driven lifts for kitchen worktops and wall cupboards are available from Enware Australia .