(PhysOrg.com) — A research article published in the February issue of the Journal of Food Protection presents disturbing findings to consumers, according to a food-safety expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
In the study, a survey of food-service workers found that about 12 percent said they had come to work while sick, suffering from symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting. “This is alarming because these people potentially could have spread disease to the people who consume the foods their establishments were serving,” said Martin Bucknavage, extension food-safety specialist. “Foodborne pathogens such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Shigella often are spread by sick workers to restaurant patrons through the food.”
In one flagrant example cited by Bucknavage, in July of 2009, a worker continued to work at an Illinois fast-food restaurant after she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis A. In the week that she worked, she potentially had exposed up to 10,000 people to the virus. “Even though many of these patrons immediately went to get vaccinated when the news story was released, 20 patrons who were not vaccinated became ill with that virus,” he said.
One reason people still go to work while ill, Bucknavage contended, is that many workers and their managers don’t fully understand the implications of foodborne illness, either on their patrons or on the business where they work.
“When an employee calls in sick and the restaurant is really busy, it is often the case that the employee is told to come to work anyway,” he said. “Another reason is that these are hard economic times, and with so many people working paycheck to paycheck, it is difficult financially for those people to stay home from work.
“They need the money, so they go into work and try to hide the fact that they are ill. I also think that many look at working while sick as a badge of courage. They have this need to ‘tough it out.’ But in reality, these folks may be doing far more harm than good.”
When someone has the symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting or jaundice, they should stay away from the workplace, according to Bucknavage. And if they have a sore throat and fever, they should be restricted from preparing and serving food.
“Retail and food-service establishments must make sure employees know that they should not be working with food when they’re ill,” he said. “At the very least, they should contact their managers and inform them of their illnesses.”
Managers should include this as part of employee training, both when employees are new and then regularly after that as a reminder, Bucknavage noted. Managers also should be observant of their employees, being on the lookout for any of these symptoms. If illness is suspected, the employee should be sent home immediately.
After that, it is important to follow-up with the sick employee, and if it is indeed a foodborne pathogen, the manager will need to contact the local health department.
His recommendations are not just for food-service or retail food establishments, Bucknavage stressed, but also are important for those who prepare food for their families and those who work in child care or elder-care facilities. “Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to foodborne illness, so we need to take extra precautions when working with these groups,” he said.
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You’ve got a major project at work this week, and the deadline is absolute. You work hours of overtime, lose out on sleep, and before you know it, you’re sick as a dog.
It’s a nightmare scenario that we’ve all faced a dozen times before. You’re too sick to work, but still tied up in a project that is too important to neglect. So what can you do?
If you need to stay productive while also dealing with a nasty cold or flu, here are some tips that may be able to help you get better while also helping you to deal with your overwhelming workload.
1. Take a Day Off
For many people who have major projects on the horizon, this is not going to be a your first option. That being said, you may be so sick that you really don’t have much of a choice.
As a migraine sufferer, I’ve learned that I can’t be my usual workaholic self when I’ve got my head in a toilet. If you are sick, really, truly, terribly sick, you need to take it easy. Not only will you be back to your normal self much sooner, but you will also prevent yourself from making stupid mistakes at work or while communicating with co-workers.
2. Load Up on Cold Cures
Scarf down six bowls of chicken noodle soup, drink a gallon of OJ, drink lots of clear fluids, and take plenty of vitamins. Take over the counter cold drugs, or herbal remedies like echinacea (after making sure that you aren’t at risk for any unintended side effects.)
Do whatever it takes to get better. If you eat right and get plenty of fluids, you’ll be better equipped to keep working on important, time-sensitive projects without having to go back and revise your previous work while sick. Just beware of certain drugs (like some sinus-clearing over the counter pills) that can cause drowsiness or the dreaded “medicine head.”
You may also find relief from taking hot showers, applying hot or cold compresses to your skin and face, drinking lots of hot herbal tea, and sleeping with an extra pillow under your neck to position your head for improved draining of the sinus cavities.
3. Work in Short Bursts
It will take you longer to get in a full 8 hour day, but by working in short bursts with frequent breaks, you can keep up your energy levels and ensure that you stay completely focused on the task at hand.
This might be an excellent time to experiment with the Pomodoro Technique, a time management technique where you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically. You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes… and when you are feeling under the weather, this gives you much needed rest while also giving you a sense of accomplishment.
4. Isolate Yourself from Co-workers
If you must work, you should work from home, or in some other way that isolates you from your co-workers. That way, if you were working on the same project with them, you wont cripple the whole team by spreading around your sickness. This ensures that even if your productivity is lower, the productivity of the rest of your team will be unaffected.
5. Look to the Future
When Alex Fayle of the blog Someday Syndrome is too sick to work, he still manages to stay productive by changing the focus of his work. Rather than work on pressing, urgent projects that he might mistakes on due to his illness, he instead focuses on long-term planning and thinking about his future career goals.
“I could have gotten cranky. I could have pushed myself and produced utter crap, he explains. “Or I could have taken a break and let whatever was bothering me pass. My lazy tendencies stirred long enough to convince me of the virtue in the last option… But I wasn’t completely unproductive. I also took the time to come up with a series of visions for my future – not the outcome kind of future but an action-based one. I looked 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years into the future and decided what I was doing… People who picture future actions rather than future outcomes are more likely to achieve their goals.”
How do you maximize your productive hours when you are suffering from a serious cold or nasty flu bug? Tell us in the comments below, follow us on Twitter, or take the conversation over to Facebook.
When I saw the headline about this — a firmwide memo smacking down an employee who dared to come to work with flu-like symptoms — I was a bit amused. (When I read the memo, I was a bit disgusted — whoever had flu-like symptoms knew he or she would be working in a closed conference room with several others, including a pregnant woman — and I have to agree that it was just as “self-absorbed” as the managing partner said it was.) But it seems to raise an interesting question: when you’re forced to work while you’re sick, how do you power through? (Pictured: This exact item is sold out now, but there are tons of great tissue cozies at Etsy.)
Fun story: for this post I actually spent a bit of time trying to find authoritative information for you guys on when a cold is contagious — I seem to remember it having something to do with the color of your snot (clear = allergies or cold, yellow or green = contagious) and your temperature (over 100 is bad). I couldn’t actually find any quick and easy source, but really — these days, we’re all just going to come down on the same side, aren’t we? If you’re sick, work from home.
In any event — even if you’re home in your pajamas, you may not have the luxury of lounging about in bed and watching “Real Housewives” reruns. You may actually have to work. If you do, here are some tips for working when you’re sick…
(Caveat: I am not a doctor; these are just my own tips on what works for me. Feel free to call me insane.)
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– Take Vitamin C. No matter where you are, when you start to get that telltale tickle in the back of your throat, take Vitamin C. Orange juice from the deli or vending machine will do fine, but I like Emergen-C. (Less calories.)
– Prep your office. If you’re still at the office when you start to get sick, either take paperwork home with you, or — at least! — put your paperwork in a neat pile (or piles) before you leave, instead of leaving it spread around your office. Because sure, you might be fine tomorrow — but you might wake up feeling like a truck hit you. In which case, if you need to do work, your office will want to send your paperwork to you by messenger, and you’ll want whoever the lucky person is who’s ransacking your office to find things easily.
– Figure out what sort of “face time” you need for your office. No office is going to encourage you to come into the office, but in this economy you want to make sure that you’re still getting “points” for doing your work (particularly if you’re nearly killing yourself to do it). Call whoever you need to call (cough into their voicemail, whatever); be sure to follow it up with a work-related e-mail that shows you’re actually working if you say you are (and if you’re expending energy to do so).
– Sleep in shifts. If you really need to work and are just completely sacked by a cold, stop thinking about a normal “day” and sleep in shifts. For example: if you’re exhausted when you get home but have tons more work to do, go to sleep at 9:00. Set your alarm for midnight — after three hours you’ll have just completed two REM cycles, and you’ll be much more refreshed, focused, and energetic than you would have been had you tried to work until midnight. (Repeat as necessary until the project is where it needs to be.)
– Liquids, liquids, liquids. Soup. Water. Tea. (If you have a nasty cough, I lurve drinking hot water with lemon and honey — the honey soothes the throat and the lemon cuts the phlegm.) Did I mention soup? Force the water down — the faster this cold runs its course the sooner you can be back at full speed.
– Quarantine both yourself and your stuff. Don’t be around other people (roommates, spouse, kids, whatever) any more than you have to be. If you’re working with company books (treatises or whatnot), try to be considerate of them — no sneezing on the materials. In fact, try to get in the habit of sneezing into your elbow — it’s a better way to go about it in general. When you’re back at the office, feeling better, don’t give your germy paperwork to someone else. If you were wearing a favorite sweater or wrap or anything (either while sick or in the day or two leading up to getting sick), wash that puppy. In fact, try to wipe down your whole office (including your telephone handset).
All right, ladies — what are your tips for working when you’re sick? How do you power through when you have to work and you’re sick?
Kat Griffin is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Corporette. You can read more about her here.
The thing about being sick is that it always feels like this is the worst it’s ever been. Like it’s never going to end.
And nothing’s worse than having to work when you feel like crap–having to think when your head feels like it’s filled with cotton; having to sit in meetings when all you want to do is crawl into bed; having to make important decisions when you were up all night coughing and wheezing.
You know exactly what I’m talking about.
There is, however, a silver lining in all the suffering. Over the years, I’ve tried pretty much everything. So I know what works and what doesn’t. Here are seven ways to be effective at work when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.
Lighten up and let go. We overachievers have a nasty way of being hardest on ourselves at exactly the wrong time, like when we’re sick. Cancel trips and meetings you don’t absolutely have to take. And don’t let your mood influence your behavior. This is not a time to take on your boss or a problem co-worker. Trust me; it’ll end badly. And remember: Stress is bad for your immune system.
Meditate. No, this isn’t some mumbo jumbo religious junk. It’s science, and it’s real. Mindfulness meditation is capable of helping with pain, illness, anxiety, and stress. The hands-down leader in the field is Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and best-selling author of Wherever You Go, There You Are. Get the audio book.
Medicate. Find real medicine that works for you and doesn’t produce side effects that are worse than the illness. For example, some decongestants make me hyper and irritable. Not good. Forget Airborne and all those other dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies. They don’t do a thing. But if you’re particularly susceptible to placebos, by all means, go for it.
Coffee, yes. Alcohol, no. When you have to work, drink tea or anything with caffeine. Just be sure to hydrate with plenty of plain water and juices, as well. Stay away from alcohol, period. It won’t do you any good, and it will dehydrate you. Also, sunshine is a great stimulant. Anything to improve your mood. Speaking of which, get dressed. It’ll help you feel human again.
Keep it to yourself. Some of us just have to complain when we’re sick. I fall into that category. Here’s the thing. Don’t. Trust me, nobody wants to hear your whining. Want to know what else nobody wants to hear? Your coughing up a lung and blowing who-knows-what out of your nose. Do it in the bathroom. Better yet, whine to your spouse and be disgusting at home.
Find a way, any way, to sleep. When we’re sick, we tend to throw all our good habits out the window. We can’t sleep, and if we feel like eating at all, we want comfort foods. Thing is, your immune system needs the right foods, fluids, and sleep to fight disease so you can get better faster. However you do it, find a way to sleep. A lot. And don’t skip the vegetables.
Set a good example. If you’re a boss, listen up. Your people watch you like a hawk. They emulate your behavior and follow your priorities. Send them the right message by taking care of yourself. And when your people are sick, tell them to go home and come back when they’re feeling better. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of you.
This really comes down to common sense. Do smart things that will help you heal quicker and feel better, not dumb things that will make you feel worse and prolong the agony. The most important thing, above all, is to take care of your own and your employees’ health. That’s absolutely the best way to take care of your business, guaranteed.
During flu season, every person should show some caution if they’re experiencing flu symptoms. That means skipping out on that trip to the movies or a restaurant, but also using a sick day at work.
Staying home while sick is the best way to keep your fellow employees free of the virus you’re battling.
But, many workers don’t have the option to stay home from work while sick without the luxury of sick pay. They simply can’t afford to miss time at work, whether due to money or the duties of their job.
Work often has to come first in the modern society, with the average work week only getting longer in recent decades. Obviously, you need to stay home if you have pneumonia or strep throat (because both are contagious), but most of us go to work when we’re sick.
The good news is that there are plenty of healthy tips you can follow that will help you get through the day when you’re not feeling your best. The following are a few guidelines you can follow to feel better when working while sick:
- Drink a lot of clear liquid, including water, broth, tea, and orange juice. Try to avoid drinking coffee, heavily caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. The old wife’s tale that says a “hot toddy” will help cure your cold isn’t true because alcohol dehydrates your system. Eating ice chips will also help clear your sore throat.
- Just in case you can’t give up the caffeine, be sure to chase it down with plenty of water.
- Keep in mind that second-hand smoke can bother your nose, throat, and lungs. Make it much easier for yourself by staying away from all kinds of smoke, including cigarette smoke, smoke from a fire and pollution.
- Although over-the-counter cold remedies are helpful and offer some quick relief, they won’t shorten the amount of time you are sick. When you take these types of medicines, be sure to read the labels and avoid using too many of them.
- Better yet, find an over-the-counter medicine that really works and doesn’t produce side effects. Many people don’t know that decongestants can make you feel irritable and tired. You should also avoid taking placebo-type medicines like dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies.
- Use a saline spray to help clear congestion by loosening your mucous membranes.
- If you’ve been sick for more than seven days, and you’re not feeling better, it may be more than a cold, and a simple virus can quickly turn into a bacterial infection. Call your doctor immediately to see if you need antibiotics to clear it up.
- Last but not least, you need to get plenty of sleep when you are sick. Keep in mind that your immune system needs the right foods, fluids and sleep to feel better faster. After that long day of work, turn in an hour or two earlier to encourage your immune system.
One key method to avoid working while sick is to stay free of the illness in the first place. During the flu season, the flu shot provides reliable protection against that year’s most prominent strains.
Do you have any other questions about keeping you and your office healthy? Passport Health can help! Give us a call at or fill out a contact form for more information.
Written for Passport Health by Jerry Olsen. He has over 15 years of combined experience as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City. Jerry’s writing topics range from health care, travel, life science to medical technology and technical writing.
If you’ve been watching the news recently, you know that the flu is very rampant in the United States this year. Every year the flu season gets millions of Americans sick, and this causes a loss of productivity levels at work. This season has been particularly challenging, and if you’re a parent, your kids may have even had a flu day this year. According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), the risk for the flu is high right now, and that risk isn’t going down any time soon. Are you prepared for how to handle a sick workplace right now?
Do you want to learn how to handle another workplace issue? Check out our recent article on how to handle employees who sleep at work.
Presenteeism Is Worse Than Absenteeism
According to the Harvard Business Review, presenteeism, or people showing up to work while sick, accounts for $150 billion in lost productivity every year. While absenteeism for missing work is a problem, making people come to work while sick isn’t the solution. You are putting you and your employees at risk if you continue to allow employees to come to work while sick.
Provide An Allotted Amount Of Sick Days
Your employees need to be able to take off time when they need it. Provide a certain number of sick days each year and make those different from vacation days. Your employees shouldn’t have to eat into their vacation time because they are sick. Sick days are not vacation days.
On the note of sick days, we believe that your employees shouldn’t need proof to use a sick day. We are all capable of realizing that we are sick. Sometimes going to the doctor is the remedy, but sometimes you need a few days to rest, drink tea, and take some cough syrup.
Let People Who Feel Sick Work From Home
If you can’t set an allotted amount of sick days or your employees have tapped their sick days, let them work from home. It’s a great compromise, but you do need to be aware that the output your sick employees give might not be as significant as a traditional work from home day. Is it worth the money you’d spend? Would it make more financial sense to let them rest, feel better, and come back to work at maximum capacity?
Provide Items To Help Everyone Protect Themselves At Work
With germs spreading around the office, you want to make sure your employees are as prepared as possible. Here are some items you might want to have at work:
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant Spray/Wipes
- Honey (and a honey alternative for vegans)
- Cough drops/lozenges
You likely can’t provide anything too substantial to your employees, but anything you can provide to soothe their sickness or help them fight illness is a great thing to offer.
Offer Better Health Insurance/Wellness Programs
One of the best things you can do as an employer is offer better health insurance and wellness programs to your employees. It’s challenging to get a proper diagnosis if your health insurance doesn’t cover the best doctors or tests. Instead of offering the bare minimum in health insurance coverage, see if you can provide something more helpful. What do the copays look like on your company’s health insurance plan? How can you provide a better experience for your employees?
Partner With A Doctor Or Nurse To Give Out Flu Shots At Work
Do you want to offer a great wellness benefit and get a better handle on sick employees? Partner with someone to give flu shots at work. Getting flu shots at a local store or doctor’s office can be a challenge–those places may not be open when your employee is off the clock. By providing flu vaccinations at work, you are giving your employee’s some control over this flu season.
You shouldn’t make getting a flu shot mandatory. Have flu shots at work for employees who want them. You may even consider allowing them to bring their immediate family for flu shots as well.
Don’t Be Afraid To Cancel Work If It Gets Too Bad
Many schools and workplaces across the country have had to close up shop thanks to the flu this year. Sometimes it makes more financial sense to close down your work and let people recuperate instead of forcing a smaller team to come into work.
While everyone is gone, go on a disinfectant mission. Wipe down all your surfaces and everything people touch. Get your company prepped with all the materials you need to have a better next few weeks once everyone returns.
Don’t think of this break as an issue, think of it as a reset that will help you and your sick employees
Being sick at work isn’t fun for anyone. Instead of forcing your employees to come to work when they feel under the weather, have some compassion for them. You’ll get much more done if you don’t have to hear sneezes and coughs all day. You’ll also lower the chances that disease is spread to more of your employees.
Read the disclaimer at the bottom.
Have you ever thought about pretending you’re sick for a day or two just to have some time off? You know you’re not going psychotic and want to make them believe that you are really sick. Just want to relax. Here you will see how to fake sickness and this in a convincing way, you definitely have to work on it to cause some of the symptoms, because you will be more convincing this way.
Some of the most common symptoms of sickness are fever, cough, sneezing, sweating, loss of appetite, hoarseness, headache and so on… Here’s how you get some or all of these symptoms.
While a fever can be a nasty experience, everyone does not hate it. This applies especially to some people who have a bunch of work obligations, so they do not want to go to work the next morning. Below are some steps on how to make yourself sick and to avoid going to work or school.
How to get a fever and temperature
Disclaimer: Don’t go overboard doing silly things, doing so may cause great harm, and we take no responsibility. Be smart, take great care of your health.
- Drink ice-cold water repeatedly
- Do not eat anything – Be on a complete fast
- Overexert yourself by doing some exercise beyond your capacity
- Take a bath in cold water, do not dry yourself and sit in an AC or the open-air with minimal clothes on the body. Repeat this 2–3 times
- Do not sleep as much as possible- Lie down on your open terrace, with minimal clothes or wet clothes.
- Pray to God to grant your wish of getting a fever. (Since he rarely gets applications for fever who knows he may grant your wish) via
Keep in mind when you are doing this to make sure you are doing this in secret. God forbid that this gets out to your boss or parents.
To fake a cough in front of your boss, spouse, or if you are a student in front of your parents, you have to prepare for it in the preceding days. If you are a smoker, double the use of cigarettes, as many as you can in the shortest period. We must point out that this can impair your health as smoking is otherwise harmful to the body. This advice is only if you would do everything to get sick and thus avoid working day.
If you are a student, in the previous days, drink as much as possible cold beverages, especially after exercise when the body is already warmed. In this way, you will most probably cause several symptoms (fever, sore throat, hoarseness…) but you will surely ensure a well-known cough due to sickness.
Of course, if you’re a great actor, you can easily act out that cough and avoid health impairment to achieve your goal. This is the best option.
The easiest thing is to fake a headache because there is no way to verify whether this is so, or you are pretending. Considering the fact that it is easy to fake a headache you do not even need to actually cause a headache, and honestly, we do not know how to get it. If necessary, spend some time on a dangerous drought or something like that, but it is unnecessary to do it to yourself.
So, to fake a headache, you have to fake also the hypersensitivity to light and external factors. Act out the pain and go to bed early, of course, before that, make sure you convinced everyone that you are not able to go tomorrow to work or to school.
Loss of appetite
This is also one of the major symptoms that must be accompanied by all other symptoms to fake a cold, fever and illness successfully. Simply refuse everything they offer you to eat, for sure you will catch a moment alone to insert a bite if you cannot withstand hunger, but of course, making sure that in the front of others show a total lack of interest in food.
For hoarse voice, the best is that the night before you go to a party where you will be singing all night loudly so the next day you will have an entirely hoarse voice.
This tips should help you avoid a day at work or school, but you should know if you go too far with all this, you can be ill a few days more, and that certainly is not good.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
You’re sick. It was a struggle to even get up in the morning. Your limbs wanted to lock up and never move again, and your head wanted to explode and shrink into nothing at the same time. Your eyes ached, your mouth was dry, your throat was sore. You wanted to just fall back into the peaceful realms of sleep.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.
You have too much stuff to get done today! Reports, essays, presentations, group projects, and quarterly summaries as far as your bleary, sleep-crusted eyes can see. And they’re all due in the next few days, meaning that if you don’t get started now, you could get into some deep trouble. You don’t have time to be sick!
So what can you do to make this as painless as possible? What can you set up to take as much pressure off of yourself as possible?
Make a List
It may seem simple, but it’s saved more than one almost-overdue assignment.
Being sick clouds your mind and makes you more forgetful. Making a list of all the things you need to get done ensures that nothing gets lost in the haze of writing and tissues.
Start out with the few items you can remember off the top of your head, and then add onto it as time goes on. Even listing things that you’re unlikely to forget, like checking up on your emails or doing a specific reading, can make certain you don’t forget.
Take a Break
When you’re sick, you tire out more easily and your attention span is lowered. Aside from that, your body needs a bit more to wake it up than a quick stretch and some light leg bouncing.
Every hour or so, take ten minutes to get up and move around. Go grab so more water if the bottle that you should certainly have beside you is empty. Maybe even take a walk around the block to get some fresh air.
Once you’ve had a bit of a break, take stock of yourself. Are you getting better or worse? Did the walk help, or are you ready to keel over? If you find that nothing helps and your condition is worsening, it might be time for you to turn in and beg for extensions in the morning.