Anaphylaxis is no stranger to the workplace. The growing numbers of children with peanut and tree nut allergies reaching adulthood now means more and more workplaces are addressing this issue. Occupational Health and Safety Departments, individuals at risk and employers need guidance on managing the at risk of anaphylaxis in the workplace, while being sensitive to the need for privacy. Adults at risk of anaphylaxis need to manage and take responsibility for their own health conditions, however as a small percentage of the population have undiagnosed allergies or others may develop severe allergies later in life, so workplaces, too, need to be aware and prepared.
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Be considerate of those with severe food allergy when eating in the workplace i.e. wash your hands after eating if you have something your colleague is allergic to.
Consider placing some general information about severe allergies in work memos, circulars, newsletters, industry publications. You may even want to put a ASCIA First Aid Plan for Anaphylaxis on the staff notice board.
If you sit at a workstation/work desk that belongs to a colleague with food allergies, don’t eat your food at their desk. Consider their safety.
Make a note of Food Allergy Week held in mid May of each year and use the week increase awareness and support in the workplace.
Special occasions and events
When planning either in-house or off-site events, discuss menu choices and venues with the employees who have food allergies. You may need to make changes to reduce their risk. For example buffet-style meals increase the risk of cross-contamination, while seafood restaurants should be avoided if you have an employee with a shellfish allergy and Asian restaurants should be avoided if you have a colleague with a peanut or tree nut allergy.
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia can provide posters and training materials for the workplace.
Content updated January 2020