Accommodation Toolkit

George Test

This tool is designed to help you learn about possible workplace accommodations to make managing your arthritis at work easier. Choose your affected area, the challenge you face, or your work environment to discover which accommodations might be right for you.

This tool is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. Be sure to consult with an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, or your family doctor before implementing any new accommodation.


Accessible Parking Space

A wider parking space closer to the entrance of a workplace, ramp, covered walkway, and/or automatic-opening door. A family doctor, physiotherapist or occupational therapist may be required to fill out forms to help a worker gain access to this type of parking space.

Aerial Lift

Aerial lifts, also known as platform lifts, are hydraulic-powered lifts that make it easier to work or reach items at a height. These replace the use of a ladder or other less stable device, providing a broader platform and eliminating the need for climbing.

Alternate Locations

Alternate work locations can include working from home or another suitable and accessible location. Working in an alternate location for all or part of a work week can decrease absences and challenges related to commuting and fatigue.

Anti-Fatigue Matting

Standing for prolonged periods of time can impact stamina and fatigue and increase pain while working. Anti-fatigue matting is often made of a soft, thick material to provide support, allowing the worker to stand comfortably.

Assist Lift Cushion

An assist lift cushion can be added to a chair to make it easier for a worker to get up from a seated position. The cushion can be moved from chair to chair as needed.

Automatic Door Openers

Automatic door openers are either operated by motion or a specific action, such as pushing a button or using a card reader. Doors can open by sliding or swinging and should be at minimum the width of a push-operated door.


Taking frequent short breaks throughout a shift can decrease stress and fatigue and could be complemented by or replace a single longer break. Breaks are a scheduling accommodation and some workers may change their schedules to allow for more breaks.


There are many different types of carts available that can help with moving, transferring or carrying materials in the workplace. These reduce the stress on joints and provide greater stability.

Chairs - Adjustable

For seated work, an adjustable chair should be comfortable and support the lower and mid-back as well as thighs and buttocks. The chair should allow for feet to be flat on the floor with the shoulders relaxed and knees and elbows at 90-degree angles. If your feet do not rest on the floor, you may require a footrest.

Chairs - Head Support

A chair with a high back can provide greater neck support to lessen strain on the neck joints and help reduce pain.

Chairs - Stand-lean stools

A stand-lean stool reduces standing fatigue and helps to stabilize the body in a standing-like position. Workers can sit and/or lean on the stool while still maintaining an upright posture needed for their role.

Chemical-Free Environment

Chemicals and scents can make it difficult for those with eye and skin sensitivities to be effective and productive. Chemical-free environments include scent-free cleaning products, chemical-free soaps, and a commitment from co-workers and employers to maintain a chemical-free workspace.

Compressed Work Week

Increasing the number of hours in each work day can compress the number of work days in a week. This can reduce stress and fatigue from long work weeks, depending on the worker.

Computer Input Devices

Alternative computer input devices including keyboards, mice, microphones and adaptive function controllers are available to help relieve pain or ease difficulty with using fingers or grasping. Risers and trays for these devices are also available to allow for adjustable height.

Cooling Clothing

Heat can sometimes make inflammation and pain worse, and arthritis symptoms could result in a sensitivity to heat. Cooling clothing offers workers an accommodation option that can lower their body temperature through cooling vests, headbands or hardhat liners.

Counselling / Therapy

Arthritis symptoms, including pain and fatigue, can impact a worker’s mental health, which can then impact their ability to succeed in their role. Through access to confidential counselling or psychosocial therapy, workers can improve their mental health and decrease stress related to their arthritis symptoms.

Desks - Accessible Workstation

An accessible workstation such as a specially-designed or adjustable table or desk provides easy access for workers using a mobility aid and enables them to easily reach their work materials, including writing implements, keyboard, monitor, phone or other required items.

Desks - Sit / Stand Workstation

A sit/stand workstation gives workers flexibility in their working position to eliminate fatigue from sitting or standing. A workstation that can transfer between modes easily with little need for lifting or grasping is recommended.

Desks - Treadmill / Pedal Workstation

A treadmill or pedal workstation is a piece of equipment that allows workers to move their legs and feet while working. This decreases sedentary time at a desk and reduces fatigue from sitting or standing.

Ergonomic Assessment

An ergonomic assessment is a process to review the workstation, equipment and/or activities of a worker. The assessment will determine the safest and often most efficient way for the worker to complete their work (using a keyboard, sitting at a workstation, using a tool, operating equipment) while keeping joints safe and reducing pain.

Ergonomic Door Handles & Locks

Door handles and locks can become difficult to move over time, so you may want to add ergonomic grips for handles and locks and apply oil to mechanisms to make it easier to turn and hold.

Ergonomic Equipment - Industrial, Grasping

Ergonomic equipment can include anti-vibration gloves, anti-vibration tool wraps, ergonomic and pneumatic tools, ergonomic knives and tool balancers. This equipment can reduce challenges around handling, grasping and manipulating items to minimize or eliminate pain.

Ergonomic Equipment - Office, Grasping

Ergonomic equipment can include telephone auto-dialers, automatic staplers, book holders, door knob grips, ergonomic scissors, grip aids, hands-free telephones/headsets, reachers, rollerball gel pens, scribes/notetakers and writing aids. This equipment can reduce challenges around handling, grasping and manipulating items to minimize or eliminate pain.

Fans / Air Conditioner

Heat can sometimes make inflammation and pain worse, and arthritis symptoms could result in a sensitivity to warm or hot environments. An air conditioner or fan can lower the temperature of a workspace, allowing workers with arthritis to lower their body temperature and work more comfortably. Proper ventilation can also help with cool air flow and address issues with dry eyes or skin.

Flex Time

Flexible scheduling enables a worker to change or vary normally-scheduled work hours or days while still completing their weekly requirements. For example, a person might work two hours extra one day and two hours less the next. Flex time can be used to accommodate appointments, treatments, flares and energy levels.

Forearm Supports

Forearm supports attach to a workstation and function like armrests, providing a worker with additional support to reduce pain and strain on the arms, back and shoulders.

Grab Bars

Grab bars are bars that are installed in an area to offer support for standing, walking and balancing. They are most commonly used to help workers with arthritis that have difficulty bearing weight on certain joints. Grab bars can be installed in washrooms, common areas, entrances and anywhere else they might be useful.

Heated Clothing

Joints can become stiff in colder temperatures, so heated clothing such as footwear liners, warming scarves or heated gloves can relax muscles and help keep joints moving for people working outdoors.

Heated Ergonomic Product

Heat can provide temperature-related relief for arthritis symptoms. Heated ergonomic products can include heated steering wheels, gloves, desk chairs and foot pads.

Job Sharing

Job sharing allows two workers to share the responsibilities, hours and salary of at least one full-time job. Having two workers split a position can help decrease the stress and fatigue of each individual.

Ladder - Rolling Safety Ladder

Rolling safety ladders provide additional stability and mobility when reaching at a height. The ladder is supported by a large base and can be moved easily on wheels, then kept in position through braking or anchoring mechanisms. Rolling ladders can make it easier for workers to balance when working at heights. If arthritis symptoms in both the hands and feet of a person are a problem, it may not be appropriate to use a ladder at all.

Lifting Equipment - Agriculture

Animal lift tables, carts and lift gates (also known as tail lift) can make it easier to lift and carry animals, produce and products.

Lifting Equipment - Construction

Drywall lifts, carrying straps, material dollies and ergonomic equipment can make it easier to lift and carry construction equipment and tools.

Lifting Equipment - Industrial

Adjustable-angle lift tables, lift gates (also known as tail lifts), adjustable-height work platforms, and lift handlers (also known as telescopic handlers) can make it easier to lift and carry equipment, tools and products.

Lifting Equipment - Office

Height-adjustable desks, table legs, carts and low task chairs (which enable a person to sit at a low level) can make it easier to lift and carry equipment, office supplies and products.

Lifting Equipment - People

Changing tables, bath chairs, adjustable exam tables, evacuation devices, wheelchair lifts, patient lifts, pool and bath lifts, toileting aids and transfer aids can make it easier to lift and carry people in the workplace.

Lifting Techniques

Appropriate lifting techniques can help reduce strain on joints. When lifting an object, consider how high it will be held, how far from the body it will be held, how long the object will be held, the distance the object will need to be taken and how frequently lifting will be done. All of these factors can help determine the right body- and support-based lifting technique.

Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing awareness on one’s sensory experiences, thoughts and emotions in the current moment. Studies have shown that mindfulness techniques can help reduce pain, anxiety and depression.

Mobile Apps

Mobile phone applications can provide a range of supports for managing arthritis, including ones that focus on fatigue, sleep management, stress relief and task management. Some apps have a one-time or ongoing fee, but many offer a free trial period to see how well it works.

Mobility Device

Mobility devices increase workers’ ability to move around the workspace and do their job effectively, while also reducing fatigue or pain from walking. Devices include scooters, wheelchairs, walkers and canes. A worker may only require a mobility device for part of their work day or may only need to bring the device into the workplace before transferring to a chair.

Modified Control Equipment

Arthritis symptoms may limit the functionality of hands or feet, so modified controls can be used to manipulate equipment and tools. These can include different controls for the hands (such as softer, larger buttons) and the feet (such as foot pedals).

Modifying or Restructuring Duties

Modifying duties could include:

  • Changing the pace or physical requirements of the work
  • Re-arranging high- and low-concentration tasks according to changes in the worker’s energy level
  • Trading less suitable tasks with coworkers for other, more suitable tasks
  • Delegating components of a worker’s job to coworkers
  • Allowing the worker to work in one area rather than several areas across a work site

Photosensitivity and Light Accommodations

These types of accommodations include alternative lighting, light and screen filters, natural light shades, sunglasses, daylight lightbulbs, window tinting and sun/UV protective clothing. One or more of these accommodations can help ensure eyes and skin are protected.

Policies & Procedures

Arthritis-friendly organizational policies can include reimbursement for prescribed arthritis treatments, splints, and/or medical cannabis, as well as paid sick days, time off for appointments and treatment, short- and long-term disability benefits, and access to employee counselling.

Quiet Room

Quiet rooms are designated spaces that allow workers with arthritis or other conditions to de-stress and enhance their focus when dealing with pain and fatigue. Quiet rooms can be booked meeting space or uniquely designed rooms in the workspace.

Raised Toilet Seats

If a worker has difficulty going from a sitting to standing position, a raised toilet seat can increase comfort and ease of use. Raised toilet seats can be used in tandem with grab bars and other bathroom accommodations.

Rolling Bag

When moving work items, such as a laptop, office supplies, paperwork and/or materials for sharing, a rolling bag or cart can make it easier to transport and carry these items.

Sleep Alerting Device

For workers that may be fulfilling repetitive tasks or driving a vehicle, a sleep alerting device will use a sound to indicate when the user is falling asleep. When arthritis symptoms can impact a worker’s energy, this device can ensure they remain awake for their important tasks.

Space Heater

Joints can become stiff in colder temperatures, so heating up the work environment through a space heater can relax muscles and help keep a worker’s joints moving. Space heaters can be small enough to remain beside a worker, or large enough to warm up a room or office.

Speech Recognition Software

This is software that allows users to speak instead of type. Their words are recognized and translated into text on the screen. Users can avoid looking at the keyboard or screen and can avoid using fingers to type.

Steering Grips

If a role requires driving a vehicle or large mobile equipment, a steering grip can make it easier to grasp and control a steering wheel. Grips include textured material around the steering wheel or a knob/handhold that can be attached to the steering wheel for better control.

Worksite Redesign

This involves moving a worker’s workstation closer to a break room, restroom, office equipment, parking lot, or more accessible location. Accessibility can be increased across the worksite with elevators, ramps, easy-grip handles and railings. A workplace safety assessment can also improve accessibility by reducing tripping risks. Ventilation can also be addressed to ensure a worker won’t get dry eyes or skin from air flow.


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The Online Accommodation Tool was developed in collaboration with the ACED Partnership Project.

Accomodating and Communicating about Episodic DisabilitiesReviewed with patient perspective by Laurie Proulx, Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA), and Annette McKinnon, patient and CAPA member.

Reviewed in August and September 2019 with expert advice from:

Monique A. M. Gignac, PhD
Scientific Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Institute for Work & Health
Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Kristin Dillon, OTReg.(Ont.), Occupational Therapist, Arthritis Society
Phillip Wendt, BScOT, MScOT, OTReg.(Ont.), Occupational Therapist, Arthritis Society
Pamela Jarvis, RSSW, BASc (FCSS), Social Service Worker, Arthritis Society

This resource was made possible through educational grants from:

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