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Case Study Employment of people with disabilities at WDR in the mailroom


Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) employs around 4,200 people in almost 150 jobs, including administration, commercial jobs, editing, technology and IT. In the context of employment, diversity and inclusion - especially of people with severe disabilities or equal opportunities - play an important role. This is supported in particular by the promotion of employment and the realisation of equal opportunities, whereby instruments such as a target agreement on accessibility and company integration management help to put this into practice.

Disability and functional limitation of the employees:

The employees have a physical disability, for example due to a cardiovascular or back illness or a mental illness, and are severely disabled or on an equal footing with people with a severe disability. Due to the physical disability or its effects, they can only be used to a limited extent for activities that require lifting, carrying and bending. With regard to the mental illness, frequently changing tasks, especially under time / performance pressure or negative stress, should be avoided.

Training and job:

The employees with a severe disability or equal status who work in the mailroom have a variety of qualifications - from auxiliary to specialist. They were trained for the tasks in the mailroom at the beginning of their employment.

Work organisation:

Some of the employees previously worked in other areas and were transferred to the mailroom because the working conditions there, with repetitive processes or the possible use of lifting and transport aids, lead to less strain in terms of stress and physical work and are therefore more suitable for them.

Workplace and work task:

Employees work in the mailroom, which is located in one of the twelve buildings on the ground floor and can be reached at ground level via an entrance. The central mailroom receives mail (letters, magazines, books, parcels and packages) delivered by external service providers or their delivery staff. The incoming items are generally deposited on tables in the mailroom by the delivery staff. However, large and bulky items (e.g. parcels) are placed on the floor. In the mailroom, the items (letters, magazines, books, small parcels) are then pre-sorted on the tables in mailboxes of an appropriate size so that they can also be lifted and carried without major strain for the respective buildings. With regard to the correct lifting and carrying of loads, this was trained as usual as part of health management. Not only the smaller, but also the larger items or parcels are sorted for further distribution. After sorting, the mailboxes and parcels are placed on smaller or larger transport cars or trolleys, depending on the volume of mail. The larger and later heavier loaded transport cars in particular are easy to push due to their design and especially common rollers. For depositing, especially the larger and / or heavy loads (e.g. parcels), there is a so-called manipulator or a lifting aid near the tables with which the loads can be deposited on the transport cars without taking forced postures or high body forces. The lifting aid is also used to place the large parcels deposited by the external delivery staff elsewhere in the room. To distribute the mail, employees drive or push the transport cars to the adjacent buildings, to which they have barrier-free access via corridors with automatically opening/closing electric doors and lifts. More distant buildings are reached with the help of special postal delivery trolleys or transport vehicles. Once there, they sort the mail for the departments and employees in the area of the respective building post office into labeled shelf compartments or place it there depending on the size. Outgoing mail is taken along accordingly and prepared for dispatch in the central mail room.

Assistive products used:

Further Information

The design suitable for disabled people and barrier-free was funded by the Integration and Inclusion Office. The funding was applied for with the help of the representative body for severely disabled persons at the local specialist office for people with disabilities in working life, which cooperates with the integration or inclusion office. Advice on work design suitable for disabled people and accessibility was provided by the representative body for severely disabled people with the support of the Technical Advisory Service of the Integration and Inclusion Office.

ICF Items

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Last Update: 29 Apr 2021