How to support Raynaud’s sufferers in the workplace
7 measures employers can introduce to make a difference.
February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month, and with up to 10 million people in the UK affected by Raynaud’s, the chances are there are a few people suffering from Raynaud’s in your workplace right now! The condition is more common in young women, although it can affect men, women and children of any age.
Raynaud’s phenomenon means that the small blood vessels in the hands, fingers, feet and toes are over-sensitive to changes in temperature, even slight changes. Sometimes, emotional stress can also be a trigger for symptoms.
A normal response to cold would be for blood vessels to become narrower, but with Raynaud’s, this reaction may be more extreme. Often a noticeable change in colour to the affected areas, with the skin turning white, then blue and finally red as the circulation returns.
So as an employer, what measures can you introduce to support people with Raynaud’s in the workplace?
1. Keep workplace temperatures constant when possible
Slight changes in temperature can trigger a Raynaud’s attack. Ensuring that an office environment stays at a stable temperature can really help. Make sure that any break rooms, side offices, corridors and bathrooms stay at the same temperature too, so people aren’t exposed to changes in temperature.
2. Supply hand warmers, feet warmers, gloves and thick socks for outdoor workers
Sometimes it’s impossible to control the temperature for your colleagues, especially for outdoor workers. So to help your colleagues that work in these environments, you can ensure they have access to clothing items to keep their extremities warm.
3. Encourage gentle exercise breaks
Moving is a great way to warm people up and get blood to their extremities. This is especially important for people who are sat in at a desk all day. Maybe you could make exercise accessible for your colleagues by offering a space to use for yoga at lunchtime, or organise some maps of the local areas to encourage a brisk walk. Could you set up a challenge to encourage people to do some exercise each day?
4. Ensure Raynaud’s sufferers are not sitting in a draft or near a frequently used door
If you have a team member that has Raynaud’s, it would be useful to move their workspace away from a draft or frequently used door to ensure they can stay at a constant temperature when working.
5. Office equipment- heated mouse, soft touch keyboard, ergonomic or soft touch pens
Some sufferers of Raynaud’s may benefit from having adapted office equipment to help support them if they are struggling with an attack.
6. Avoid repeated trauma to fingertips with vibrating tools
If a colleague is suffering from Raynaud’s, it may be better to have someone else use vibrating equipment or limit the time they need to use that equipment to avoid further damage to their blood vessels.
7. Control and limit emotional stress
Emotional stress can exacerbate Raynaud’s symptoms. Supporting your colleagues through stressful periods can help reduce their symptoms, and the likelihood to have a Raynaud’s attack. Ensuring workplace stress is minimised can also help with this.
A combination of these tips can really help and support your colleagues struggling with Raynaud’s, and make your workplace a happier, more comfortable place to be.