Staying safe as an essential worker
The definition of a critical or essential worker has expanded beyond who we would typically call during a crisis such as fires, flooding or other events having a large-scale community impact.
In addition, not everyone has the ability to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people have jobs that cannot be done remotely because of equipment they need for their job, or because they are an essential worker and are required and expected to show up to work.
You might have mixed emotions: happy to be working and pleased with the gratitude that this being rightly bestowed on front-line workers, but also concerned about your own health and frustrated by those who do not follow the new rules.
First and foremost, remember what you can control:
- Abide by your employer’s policies and practices related to COVID-19.
- Use the usual or the newly established process for escalating concerns. If a co-worker is the one breaking the rules, speak to them. If the behaviour does not change, speak to your supervisor. When you see a risk, it is important to do something about it.
- Practice physical distancing and appropriate hygiene practices when at home and going back and forth to work.
- Take pride in what you are doing for the organization and the community. Without your contribution how would we support the role?
- Recognize that there will always be some who break rules and act inappropriately. This is not about you. Look for support amongst your co-workers and managers when issues arise. As hard as it may be, keep your cool, and respond to and guide them firmly but without anger. Anger can often escalate a situation, particularly for someone who has already shown that they are given to testing limits.
You might also be concerned for your family:
- By following each of the points noted above, you are protecting you physical and emotional health, which also benefits your family.
- Remind your family that you are doing your need to stay healthy.
- Let your family share their concerns it will ensure everyone is heard and that they are not worrying without you appreciating their concerns.
- Provide your family with updates on the job so they feel they can support you with better understanding or explain why you do not want to talk about your job such as you need a break from the stress.
Your mental health is more important now than ever. You may feel more stress now than you would normally. This is normal for such an unusual time, and should not be underplayed. Talk with colleagues and others in similar situations to support each other, or speak with a mental health professional.