Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #12
08172018Fri
Last updateFri, 17 Aug 2018 11am

Are there any rules-of-thumb around coming to work sick? I’m always on my guard to try and stay healthy, but many of my co-workers come in to work sick – putting me at risk. What can I do?

Dear Working Wise:

Are there any rules-of-thumb around coming to work sick? I’m always on my guard to try and stay healthy, but many of my co-workers come in to work sick – putting me at risk. What can I do? Signed, Sick of Co-workers

 

Dear Sick:

 

Many people go to work sick despite the risk of infecting others. In fact, most of us have done it in the last year. A 2010 survey by CareerBuilder.com found that nearly 75 per cent of workers usually go to work while they are sick and more than half reported feeling guilty when they did stay home.

 

Your co-workers may be coming to work sick to show that they are team players—but as you have pointed out, they are putting the rest of the team at risk.

 

Staying home when you are sick protects your co-workers, helps you get better faster, and saves your employer money by preventing other workers from getting sick.

 

Of course, staying home isn’t always possible. Some employers do not offer sick benefits. And sometimes the work simply can’t wait until you are feeling well.

 

If you must work while you are sick, you can help protect your co-workers by:

o   Working from home until you are no longer contagious;

o   Washing your hands frequently;

o   Coughing/sneezing into your arm instead of your hand;

o   Avoiding close contact with your co-workers;

o   Avoiding shared work tools, e.g., photocopiers, staplers, whiteboards, keyboards, kitchen items, etc., or cleaning them after you have used them.

 

You can help protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, keeping your unwashed hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes, avoiding close contact with ill co-workers, and being mindful when using shared work tools.

 

You might want to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer close by and possibly some disinfectant wipes so you can quickly clean shared items. Viruses can survive for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

 

Other things you can do to protect yourself include getting immunized and improving your resilience by ensuring you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.

 

You might also want to raise your concern with your supervisor and explain that presenteeism—coming to work sick—actually costs the company money. Studies show that presenteeism costs companies more money than paid sick days.

 

Your supervisor may not know how common the problem is. An OfficeTeam survey found that only 17 per cent of executives thought that their staff were coming into work very frequently.

 

Your supervisor can do a lot to set the expectations around what all employees should do when they are sick.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human services. This column is provided for general information.


My supervisor is always on my case about everything, he never has anything good to say, he’s always complaining. Is he allowed to do that? It almost seems like harassment. What can I do?

Dear Working Wise:

My supervisor is always on my case about everything, he never has anything good to say, he’s always complaining. Is he allowed to do that? It almost seems like harassment. What can I do? Signed, Worn-out worker 

 

Dear Worn-out:

 

It is hard to tell from your letter if your supervisor is like this with everyone or just you.

 

If he is like this with everyone, you might want to gather your co-workers together to discuss his management and communication styles with him.

 

If it seems like he is only picking on you, you might need to meet with him to discuss your performance and how he communicates with you. Try asking him to narrow down his top three concerns and then agree to work on them and meet soon to discuss the progress that both of you have made.

 

Getting specific and meeting frequently will allow both of you to see that you are both committed to improving your working relationship.

 

You might also want to give some thought to your attitude at work. A positive attitude is one of the most important things you can bring to work with you every day. Would your supervisor and co-workers say that you:

 

o   Are dependable/responsible/punctual;

o   Are honest and keep your promises;

o   Organize your work and keep up with it; 

o   Follow directions and ask questions when necessary;

o   Take responsibility for your mistakes; 

o   Can accept criticism without resenting it;

o   Recognize your weaknesses and try to correct them; 

o   Are enthusiastic about what you do;

o   Are courteous and polite, even when you are unhappy;

o   Dress appropriately for your workplace;

o   Can handle mild teasing and control your temper;

o   Respect other people's opinions/beliefs;

o   Are optimistic even when others are not; 

o   Easily adapt to new/unexpected situations;

o   Do not become negative when things don’t go your way;

o   Can disagree without being disagreeable;

o   Are a courteous driver;

o   Usually speak positively about others;

o   Find it easy to like most people;   

o   Avoid feeling sorry for yourself; 

o   Take an interest in others.

 

Try asking your supervisor what pressures he or she is under? Knowing where your supervisor is coming from and what his/her priorities are will help you better understand their demands and how you can help.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

I started framing houses this summer and so this is going to be my first winter working outside in the cold. It already feels chilly and I know it’s going to get worse. Do you have any tips on staying warm?

Dear Working Wise:

I started framing houses this summer and so this is going to be my first winter working outside in the cold. It already feels chilly and I know it’s going to get worse. Do you have any tips on staying warm? Signed, Freezing

 

Dear Freezing:

 

Working in the cold can be uncomfortable and even dangerous.  

 

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of the workers on their work sites. Working in the cold is a hazard and so your employer should be monitoring the outside temperature and taking steps to protect you.

 

However, you also have a role to play in protecting yourself and the people you work with. The person most likely to notice frostbite, hypothermia or dehydration is you or one of your coworkers. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and warm this winter.

 

Dress in layers—Layers allow you to adjust as the temperature, wind and your physical activity level changes. This prevents you from getting too cold or hot—causing you to sweat. Damp clothing wicks away body heat and causes you to feel colder faster.

 

Stay out of the wind—a mild 20 km/h wind can make -20 C feel like -30 C. If you can’t work inside, try building a wind break.

 

Take frequent breaks—employers should provide a heated rest area. A schedule of regular rest breaks, based on the conditions, should be established to allow workers to warm up. Workers should be allowed to decide how often they need to take breaks—the schedule is just to ensure that you don’t forget to stop and warm up.

 

Limit your exposure—get your tools and nails ready before you go outside. Work on small projects inside and then carry them outside for installation. Work outside during the warmer hours of the day and work inside during the colder ones.

 

Drink warm liquids—drink coffee, tea and hot chocolate to help you warm up and alternate with water or a sports drink. Caffeine speeds up your metabolism, causing you to sweat and possibly dehydrate and lose electrolytes.

 

Cover your head and hands—the greater the surface area of your skin is exposed, the more heat your body loses. If you are on your knees a lot, wear extra protection on your knees to insulate them from cold surfaces. Be careful, scarves and gloves can get caught in moving equipment.

 

Use enclosures and heating systems when possible—heaters can help take the edge of a cold work area or help you warm up while you’re taking a break, but be sure the area is well ventilated to prevent the build up of carbon monoxide.

 

Know the signs of frostbite—a tingling sensation or skin that looks pale and waxy are the first signs of frostbite. Your hands, face and feet are at the greatest risk, because your body diverts blood away from your extremities first when it starts getting cold.

 

Know the signs of hypothermia—severe shivering is an early sign of hypothermia. A severely shivering worker should be removed immediately from exposure to the cold.

 

Watch out for hazards—snow can hide tripping hazards like extension cords or even icy surfaces. Wear proper footwear and mark or remove hazards.

 

Ask your co-workers—you’ve probably already done this, but the people you work with have learned what works and what doesn’t. Check out what they wear and ask them what they recommend.

 

For more information and tips, visit http://humanservices.alberta.ca/whs and click on

Best Practice—Working Safely in the Heat and Cold in Best Practices publications.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 


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