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Redesigning a job for inclusiveness

Volvo East Asia changed parts of its office to accommodate an employee who had become a wheelchair user after an accident.

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In order for the staff with disability to return to work, the company changed three existing glass doors (one at the main lobby and two at the floors where he needed access) to automatic sliding doors. It also automated the door of the handicap toilet and added a ramp at the entrance to make it easier for him to go in and out.

BT_20180621_FKVOLVO_3475275.jpg
In order for the staff with disability to return to work, the company changed three existing glass doors (one at the main lobby and two at the floors where he needed access) to automatic sliding doors. It also automated the door of the handicap toilet and added a ramp at the entrance to make it easier for him to go in and out.

BT_20180621_FKVOLVO_3475275.jpg
In order for the staff with disability to return to work, the company changed three existing glass doors (one at the main lobby and two at the floors where he needed access) to automatic sliding doors. It also automated the door of the handicap toilet and added a ramp at the entrance to make it easier for him to go in and out.

WHEN an employee of Singapore-based Volvo East Asia met with an accident that resulted in him becoming a wheelchair user, the company immediately took steps to enable him to come back to work. Volvo East Asia is the Asia-Pacific headquarters of Volvo Construction Equipment, a leading international manufacturer of construction equipment.

The management redesigned the person's job in the Process & IT Department after he was certified as a person with disability (PWD). In order for him to return to work, the company had to change three existing glass doors (one at the main lobby and two at the floors where the employee needed access) to automatic sliding doors.

"We had to change the glass doors to automatic ones so that he is able to get in and out of the office on his own," said Patalina Tan, vice-president of human resources at Volvo East Asia. "The previous design requires him to pull open the door manually which is quite difficult and heavy for someone on a wheelchair."

The company also automated the door of the handicap toilet and added a ramp at the entrance to make it easier for him to go in and out. Meanwhile, the door security access was lowered so that he could tap his access card for entry. The various redesigns allowed the employee to come back to work on a part-time basis in July 2017, just five months after the accident, and full-time in September 2017.

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Ms Tan noted that with SG Enable's help, there were no major challenges in implementing the redesign. "We sought the advice from SG Enable when we were finalising the changes so that all aspects are considered. So, we basically had a support on the changes that needed to be made. Most of the modifications were planned to be done over the weekend so there were minimal disruptions to the operations of the business."

Volvo tapped on the SG Enable-administered Open Door Programme which supported 90 per cent of the cost for the office modifications that were needed.

Since his return to work, the employee has not had any problems moving around the office building, said Ms Tan. "He is grateful and with the modifications we did, he is able to move around freely within the office space. He is able to have good interactions with his colleagues and participate in meetings in projects that he is involved in."

On why Volvo East Asia decided to invest in the office re-design for one employee, Ms Tan said that the affected employee had contributed very positively to the business in the past, and was highly regarded by both his managers as well as peers.

She said: "Since it will still be possible for him to continue contributing in this area of work even though he is in a wheelchair, we felt that we should try our best to modify the environment so that he will be able to come back to work again."


Open door policy

THE Open Door Programme (ODP) is a government funded initiative by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Workforce Singapore (WSG). It is supported as part of WSG's Adapt and Grow initiative and administered by SG Enable. ODP aims to encourage employers to hire, train and integrate persons with disabilities. Employers who hire persons with disabilities will be eligible for grants and employment support services under the programme.

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