National Safety Month is upon us, providing a great excuse for all of us to focus on how safe our workplace environments are. Staying safe should include limiting injuries as well as sickness. Given the hefty number of people who have allergies, an anaphylactic attack in the workplace may be a significant risk.
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to allergens. Anaphylaxis involves the circulatory and respiratory systems of the body. When an anaphylactic attack is not immediately and promptly addressed, it could be fatal.
Every workplace should be prepared to handle allergy attacks—including life-threatening anaphylaxis. There should be an epinephrine injector, or Epi-pen, available as the first line of defense.
If you have allergies, here are some steps you could take to stay safe in your workplace:
- Ask permission from your employer to post signs in different areas of the workplace about the risks of food allergies.
- When attending a meeting or conference, call the people who will be handling catering in advance. Let them know about the specifics of your allergies—including what you can and can’t eat.
- For company events, you can do the same thing as you would for conferences. Contact the people in charge. Request your own menu when possible. If the food will not suit your needs, bring your own.
- When using the common dining area in the workplace, bring your own food as well as eating utensils. Rinse off your utensils if they have had contact with trigger foods such as peanut butter, but still be cautious. You could still have a reaction even if there is just a trace of an allergen present.
Don’t be shy about your allergy. Enlist others in your quest to stay healthy. With the cooperation of your employer and fellow workers, you can turn the workplace into an allergy-free work environment.