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Who's considered a special needs traveller?

by , 11 October 2013
If you have employees who travel regularly, you have to ensure their safety and well being. And sometimes your employee will qualify as a special needs traveller. This means you have additional obligations to meet her travel needs. Read on to discover who's considered a special needs traveller so you can meet the legal requirements.

Your employee qualifies as a special needs traveller if she's:

  • Disabled
  • Considered immune compromised
  • Pregnant.

Let's take a closer look at how you need to accommodate each of these special needs travellers.

Here's how to accommodate special needs travellers

#1: Disabled traveller

There are different groups of disabled travellers. These can be for example, people with spinal cord injuries, paraplegics, the hearing impaired, amputees and the visually impaired, says the Health & Safety Advisor.

Here are the general measures you can take to accommodate disabled travellers:

  • Assess fitness to travel (medical needs) timeously, at least two months before departure.
  • See a travel agent and get the necessary documentation, for instance, passport or visa.
  • Contact the travel clinic.
  • Inform airline of the traveller's disability for special need assistance.
  • Obtain form AW44 by phoning SAA on 011 978-3184. This is a medical questionnaire for travellers requiring oxygen, stretcher, a wheelchair or recovering from or undergoing major surgery. Care agencies like ATL can provide equipment for hire and flight details.
  • Also inform airline of extra weight or dietary requirements.

#2: Immune compromised

Who is considered immune compromised?

  • A person with HIV;
  • Persons suffering from certain cancers (for example, leukemia), rheumatoid arthritis, severe allergies and thymus disorder;
  • Persons taking immune suppressing drugs such as corticosteroids; or
  • Persons who have undergone a splenectomy.

You must ensure these employees get the necessary vaccine. The travel clinic can help you with this.

'Any adverse reaction to the vaccine of HIV positive individuals should be reported to the travel clinic, who will then report it to the Department of Health', says the Health & Safety Advisor.

#3: Pregnant women

General travel isn't discouraged during pregnancy until close to due date (from 34 weeks) in healthy women. But some airlines impose travel restrictions in late pregnancy and the neonatal period.

Although travel is considered safe, certain vaccines can be harmful (for example live vaccines such as yellow fever or rubella) and must be avoided.

Ideally pregnant women mustn't enter malaria or yellow fever endemic areas.

Now that you know who's considered a special needs traveller, make sure you meet your legal obligations.

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