So there I was, shivering under the covers, my feverish body aching from some mysterious illness, anticipating the early Monday morning alarm that would signal the new workweek. The medication I had taken to relieve my cold/flu symptoms had not yet taken hold. “Should I even go to work?” was barely in my consciousness as the medication finally lulled me to sleep.
This scenario, which I’m sure most of us can relate to, was what I faced last week. Fortunately, the icy roads Monday morning and somewhat less hazy thinking kept me from attempting the act of “presenteeism” I had anticipated the night before.
There are two basic hazards presented here. One, working while ill, exposes your coworkers to illness and renders you much less productive in your daily work tasks. And, if your job entails some hazard, you risk bodily injury to yourself and others from your impaired alertness and sense of situational awareness.
The second hazard comes from the use of medications that serve to alleviate the symptoms of your illness. Their pharmacological effects have the potential to render you even less productive and more dangerous to coworkers. And don’t forget, medications you take routinely for other chronic conditions can have the same adverse effects as those used for colds and flu.
The bottom line: think hard before committing to working while ill. And ask your doctor if the medications you take might be creating a workplace hazard.