Every week, PeanutAllergy.com will be answering one of the questions posed on the community board page.
This week, we are responding to this post:"I am a 22 year old college student with a peanut allergy. I have noticed that it is getting worse every year. I just start a new job a week ago and since then have notice I am having mild reactions frequently. I also had a bad reaction recently. All my coworkers know that i have a peanut allergy. With this type of work, almost everyone at work eats peanut butter or eats peanuts for the protein. How would someone go about trying to inform coworkers about the allergy and set up a plan on what happens if I do have a worse reaction? Right now, I have talked to my supervisors and the human resources but this has never been a problem for this employer before."
Our Answer: First off, we recommend that you talk to each of your coworkers personally and let them know about your situation. Many are simply unaware of how dangerous a peanut allergy can be. If you are open and direct with them, they will hopefully be more understanding and will change their habits. Let them know that your peanut allergy is life-threatening, and you can even show them how to use an EpiPen in case you ever have a reaction. Most will be more than understanding. It is important that you let your coworkers, supervisor, and anyone who will be around you on a daily basis.
Also, we suggest that you continue to talk with your HR department and let them know what a life-threatening situation your peanut allergy is. Get a note from your doctor, which can help show them what a serious condition you have. You could also ask HR to organize a 5 minute seminar or send out an email memo asking everyone at the office to be aware of their eating practices. Also, we suggest that you present them with an emergency action plan in case you ever do have a reaction at work.
If HR and your coworkers are not understanding, then find somewhere else to work. Your safety and security is more important than anything else.