Sick At Work? | The Dangers and Consequences of Working While Sick

Sick At Work? | The Dangers and Consequences of Working While Sick

With winter now in full swing and snow on the ground in several areas across the country, people are starting to become sick and are purchasing over the counter flu medications. Usually, workers who work in the field or in the factories are tough enough that the flu or a little cold is not going to keep them from going into work, but it is important to remember the dangers and consequences associated with this. Although workers may think they are well enough to go to work, or they feel their medication will help them enough to get them through the day, none of this disputes the fact that cold and flu medications can negatively affect focus and concentration while working and can even make some people sleepy. This brings about obvious problems. Being sick at work is not always what you think it will be, that’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you in making the decision whether or not to go into work sick, and if you do, what steps to take to make sure your sickness is not affecting the people around you.

The most common side effect associated with over the counter flu and cold medicines is drowsiness or sleepiness. According to studies, it has been reported that up to 10-25% of people who take these types of medications experience some sort of daytime drowsiness. However, don’t just chalk up drowsiness as a minor inconvenience. Over 200,000 accidents involving vehicles each year are directly related to sleepiness. Additionally, fatigue is reported to be a contributing factor in almost a third of all truck accidents where the driver is killed. Simply put, taking flu or cold medications and then going into work is not smart and can have lethal consequences. Being drowsy or sleepy while using large machinery, sharp tools, and other dangerous equipment is not only putting yourself in danger, but it can also have an effect on the people around you. How would you be able to live with yourself if you lost control of a vehicle while you were on one of these medications and you ended up killing somebody? Sometimes, it is simply not worth it to go into work, regardless of how resilient you think you are with sickness.

sick at work

Usually, supervisors, managers, or other superiors will not want you to go into work if you are sick. They are usually aware of the fact that not only can you become a danger to yourself and those around you, but your productivity will probably suffer as well. Along with this, your own recovery time will be affected if you are not at home allowing your body to rest and recover. However, for those times where you absolutely, positively have to go into work, we suggest the following steps.

  • Notify Your Superior – Don’t ever go into work sick without letting the person in charge know! It may be possible to switch your assignment for the time being until you get better so you are not working in situations where your sickness could become an issue. You should not be doing any work that requires a respirator or anything that is physically demanding. Notifying your superiors about your sickness will also help them understand if your production or performance drops a bit.
  • Use Recommended Dosages – Using more than is directed on your medication will not get you better sooner! In fact, it will only magnify the side effects associated with the particular medication you are taking. Follow recommended dosages at all times, especially if you have to go into work.
  • Don’t EVER Mix Medications – This should not even be a question. If you mix medications in the hopes of getting better sooner, or creating a “super drug” that will magically heal you, you are simply asking for trouble.
  • READ THE LABEL – Don’t ever take medication without first knowing what is in it. This will not only give you directions and correct dosages, but it will also give you a heads up on the possible side effects you could experience.
  • Don’t Try New Medicine At Work – Any new medication that you plan on trying out should be done on the weekend or at home. Do not try new medication at work! You have no way of knowing how your body is going to react to it. The last thing you want is an unexpected reaction popping up right in the middle of your work day.
  • Wash Your Hands, Then Wash Them Again – This seems simple and mundane, but it is unbelievably important! A majority of cold and flu viruses are transmitted via your hands, so if you aren’t washing them, you could possibly get the entire workplace sick. This only means less productivity and upset supervisors. Wash your hands often!

Do not glorify being sick at work or the fact that you can work through your sickness. Even if you somehow manage to get through the day without causing an accident of some sort, odds are that another coworker was exposed to your virus and will probably become sick themselves in the very near future. The consequences associated with sickness in the workplace are too dire for you to go to work unless you absolutely have to. Use your head, don’t work sick!

About The Author
Brett Gordon is a writer for Safety Partners, LTD.

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