Monday – Personal Wellness and the Workplace
A healthy work-life balance depends on time management. We spend about a third of our lives at work so it’s important that work is a healthy environment. This week, we’ll look at some wellness related topics that identify both illness and lifestyle scenarios that can impact our work life and how to mitigate them.
Allergies are an issue that many people have to pay attention to every day. The most common allergens include pollen, dust mites, food, drugs, latex, animal dander, insect stings, and mold. A few of these allergens may be only minor inconveniences with symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. However, some can be more serious and be an issue while on the job. Make sure to communicate any allergies to supervisors, in case of an exposure resulting in an emergency situation.
Two common allergens that could be the source of a severe allergic reaction are:
- Insect stings – Insect stings are a common cause of allergic reactions on the job resulting in redness and some minor swelling in the sting area. However, some individuals have much more serious reactions, called anaphylaxis, that can impair breathing, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, and affect heart rate.
- Food allergies – According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, people visit the emergency room about 200,000 times each year because of food allergies. Almost 10,000 people stay overnight in the hospital each year because of food allergies. The eight most common food allergens are milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, shellfish, fish, wheat, and eggs.
While many employers will not ask for allergy information due to HIPPA privacy regulations, it is important to communicate any allergens to someone on the job who is in a management position. Make arrangements with your safety team or first responders to be aware of your vulnerability, have Epi Pens ready, and make sure that first aid responders know how to use and administer them. Proper and immediate treatment is crucial for someone suffering from a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including an epinephrine injection and potentially an emergency room visit.
Tuesday – The Common Cold
The common cold is just that, common. There is no vaccine or medicine that completely relieves a cold; however, there are ways to lower your chances of getting a cold or minimize the effects if you happen to get one.
Preventing the spread of the common cold comes down to a few basic principles, but it can be hard to avoid if enough people around you are spreading the virus. A few quick tips from the CDC:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Stay away from individuals who are sick.
- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
If you happen to get a cold, prevent spreading it by practicing good hygiene tips, staying home from work if needed, and avoiding gatherings or social events.
Most of us can battle through a common cold with no major issues; however, it is still important to try to prevent having a cold or spreading it to others. When you are feeling under the weather realize the effects it has on you and your work. Fight the urge to cut corners or take shortcuts especially when it comes to working safely when you are sick.
Wednesday – Drowsy Driving
We face hazards any time we operate a motor vehicle with weather, wildlife, road conditions, and other drivers being some of the most common. For the most part, these are out of your control; however, one very deadly activity that is taking place far too often is drowsy driving.
There is more fatigue and drowsiness in the general population than arguably ever before. Because of our fast paced lives, drowsy driving is a major concern on the roadways. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 37,000 injury crashes and 45,000 property damage only crashes occur annually related to drowsy driving.
While general fatigue is a major cause of drowsy driving there are also several other causes.
- Lack of sleep: The amount of things we have going on in our lives can make it hard to get enough sleep.
- Medical issues: Certain medical issues or health conditions can cause drowsiness despite sleep.
- Drugs and alcohol: Driving under the influence creates an obvious hazard, but when paired with sleeplessness or medical issues, it can be an extremely dangerous situation.
To prevent drowsy driving, you should:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Eat a good diet and stay hydrated.
- Consult your doctor for unusual or excessive fatigue.
- Do not drive while under the influence.
- Use caution even when using prescribed medication.
- Pull over if you feel drowsy.
Do not be a drowsy driver. Take the necessary precautions to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Pay attention to the drivers around you and practice defensive driving techniques to protect yourself from other drivers who may be driving drowsy.
Discussion point: Does anyone have an experience with being so tired that they were falling asleep behind the wheel or almost had an accident due to drowsy driving?
Thursday – Fatigue
Fatigue is a dangerous thing in the work place as it can negatively impact safe working. It also carries an overall estimated cost of more than $136 billion per year to employers in health-related lost productivity. Reducing employee fatigue is important in increasing focus and concentration. Here are some best practices to help reduce fatigue in the workplace:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Understand the side effects of any medications you take.
- Take care if your general health.
- Take short breaks at work to walk around and stretch.
If your work schedule is too demanding or the hours you are working are making you feel fatigued every single day, talk with a supervisor. Sometimes responsibilities or schedules can be altered to improve productivity and safety in the workplace. Overtime may be nice on the paycheck, but long stretches of work can begin to take a toll on your health and focus. Focus on a healthy work – life balance and be sure to manage your rest.
Friday – Stress
Stress from our work and personal lives affect us every day. A combination of high expectations for productivity and limited resources to complete work often leads to high stress levels on the job. It is important to be able to handle stress in a constructive way and to recognize when you are stressed and step away from the situation to take time to relax.
There are things you can do that don’t have much impact on productivity to help you relax a bit:
- See the big picture – Understand what the most important deliverables are and if time gets short, narrow your focus to only the most important things.
- Take a time out – Take a quick walk around the facility. Maybe take a note pad or safety opportunity form with you and make some observations that are outside your immediate work area. Sometimes observing others work helps relieve what you’re experiencing in yours.
- Don’t be a hero – Don’t put as much pressure on yourself. The business will survive should you miss a deadline, just make sure you learn about why it was missed and how you can become more efficient in the future.
- Get enough rest and exercise.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself or others.
Some people may feel they thrive on pressure, but you’re not truly performing under pressure unless you’re making sure that each step for quality and every standard for working safely is performed. Taking short cuts to meet demands is not truly meeting demands. Although the task was completed, at what potential risk or cost was it done?
Overall stress can often be reduced or eliminated if we take the time to evaluate the source and work through it with a team.
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