In many blue-collar industries, working with hazardous materials under perilous conditions is simply part of the job. One of the most dangerous conditions to work under, however, is illness. Working while sick lowers your cognitive abilities, dexterity, and focus, which increases the risk of accidents.

When coming in to work when feeling sick, think of how you’re affecting those around you. Though your team will have to work harder to make up for your temporary absence, it’s still easier than replacing you. Before gearing up, honestly evaluate your health and physical condition to ensure you’re not putting anyone at risk.

Signs You May Be Sick

Some signs of illness are more obvious than others. Vomiting, bleeding, and diarrhea are signs it’s time to take the day off, while a runny nose or persistent cough could be indicative of a number of conditions. Try taking your temperature and moving around in full gear for a few minutes to see if your condition changes.

Taking Care of Yourself

The first thing you should do when you notice you’re sick is notify a supervisor or manager. Notification shouldn’t be something scary that you’ll get in trouble for – it’s a courtesy to the team to ensure the project resources are correctly managed.

Managers don’t typically get upset when someone calls in, unless it’s a pattern of bad behavior. If paid sick leave is available, be sure to discuss this and understand before taking time off. Even if unpaid, it’s usually best to take the time off to recover than to risk poor job performance and possibly your life (along with the safety and health of those around you).

Drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs while sick. Stick to light activity for short periods, and focus on remaining hydrated to get back up and running with minimal downtime. Take vitamin supplements and medicine as recommended by your physician.

We live in a world where people often want to “tough things out” and push through every possible obstacle. While this attitude can get you far in life, when it comes to personal health, it’s no time to play games. Working while sick can cause accidents and health risks to you and everyone around you. If you want to be a hero, call in sick.