A worker has informed us that she has been diagnosed with an allergy for which she is required to carry an EpiPen. As an employer, what are our obligations to her?
There is some debate about an employer’s obligations in this situation. Two immediate issues are to do with the duty to provide a safe work environment and the requirement to provide first aid facilities to the worker in case of a severe allergic reaction.
In general terms, you are under an obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to maintain a safe working environment. This will require consultation with the worker to establish what the potential allergic triggers in the workplace are. You must then consider how these risks may be eliminated or, if that’s not practicable, how they can be reduced as much as possible.
While the worker has a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety by carrying an EpiPen at all times, you also have an obligation to consult with her regarding the provision of first aid to ensure that others in the workplace are aware of the location and operation of the EpiPen so that it can be accessed and used in an emergency, including when the worker is unable to administer it herself.