Saf Health Work.  2011 Mar;2(1):9-16.

Diabetes Management and Hypoglycemia in Safety Sensitive Jobs

  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore.
  • 2Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Diabetes Center, Singapore.


The majority of people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus are in the working age group in developing countries. The interrelationship of diabetes and work, that is, diabetes affecting work and work affecting diabetes, becomes an important issue for these people. Therapeutic options for the diabetic worker have been developed, and currently include various insulins, insulin sensitizers and secretagogues, incretin mimetics and enhancers, and alpha glucosidase inhibitors. Hypoglycemia and hypoglycaemic unawareness are important and unwanted treatment side effects. The risk they pose with respect to cognitive impairment can have safety implications. The understanding of the therapeutic options in the management of diabetic workers, blood glucose awareness training, and self-monitoring blood glucose will help to mitigate this risk. Employment decisions must also take into account the extent to which the jobs performed by the worker are safety sensitive. A risk assessment matrix, based on the extent to which a job is considered safety sensitive and based on the severity of the hypoglycaemia, may assist in determining one's fitness to work. Support at the workplace, such as a provision of healthy food options and arrangements for affected workers will be helpful for such workers. Arrangements include permission to carry and consume emergency sugar, flexible meal times, self-monitoring blood glucose when required, storage/disposal facilities for medicine such as insulin and needles, time off for medical appointments, and structured self-help programs.


Blood glucose awareness training (BGAT); Fitness to work; Hypoglycemic unawareness; Safety sensitive; Self-monitoring blood glucose
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