People have had to travel for work for decades. Now, however, working on the road is easier, more convenient, and even more exciting than ever.
Thanks to advancements in technology, workers can travel across the globe more frequently and network with people in different countries to improve business relationships and stimulate industry growth.
However, health and safety standards for workers who are expected to travel often are still incredibly important.
Whether you work an office job that requires international travel or you’re a pilot, trucker, or any other professional who has to fly or drive all over, your well-being needs to be prioritized.
The best way to do that is by understanding your rights and feeling empowered to seek the health and wellness care your job should be providing. Let’s cover some of the health issues often associated with travel-based work and why/how those issues should be addressed.
The Health Risks of Work Travel
Traveling for work can be a great way to see the world, explore new cultures, and meet interesting people. However, it doesn’t come without a few potential health and safety issues.
First, working long hours away from home can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. Some of the biggest issues travel workers often face include sleep deprivation, social isolation, and even malnutrition caused by everything from changing time zones to feeling anxious or depressed.
Depending on where you’re traveling, it’s also important to consider any potential security threats. Ideally, your company wouldn’t send you anywhere that’s inherently unsafe. But, if you’re unsure of the culture, language, or customs, you could be putting yourself at risk of traveling to dangerous neighborhoods or connecting with people you shouldn’t.
There are also mental health risks that come with traveling for work. Again, being away from friends and family can lead to feelings of social isolation, which can contribute to serious issues like:
- Greater mortality rate;
- Heart conditions.
Traveling a lot can also cause extra stress and lead to burnout. Not only will that affect your work productivity, but it can cause fatigue, sleep issues, and much more. Those issues are likely to linger long after you get home from your trip.
How Can You Advocate for Your Health and Safety?
Understanding some of the common concerns associated with traveling for work can help to boost your confidence when it comes to addressing your employer. It’s the legal and ethical responsibility of every business to have a plan for every employee they send out on a work trip. This is called duty of care, and it should cover things like:
- Health and safety;
- Adequate nutrition;
- Fire safety.
Duty of care also needs to cover any issues that might arise while an employee is traveling. If you get sick on the road, what will your company do about it? If you get injured in an accident, how will they take care of you?
These are important issues to address before you travel, so don’t be afraid to talk to your employer to ensure they have a safety plan in place. Discussing workplace health concerns might feel a bit intimidating, at first, but you have the right to feel safe and valued if you’re traveling for business.
You also have legal rights when it comes to your health. It is legally required for your employer to keep you away from known health and safety hazards. They also can’t discriminate against you if you bring up any concerns. Consider working with your local OSHA office to determine exactly what those rights are so you can be better prepared as you address your employer.
In a perfect world, traveling for work would come without any risks. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, no matter how exciting it is.
Know your rights and your value, don’t be afraid to speak up, and take personal precautions when it comes to traveling, and you’re more likely to stay safe and healthy wherever you go.
This blog was originally contributed to Workplace Fairness. Published with permission.
About the Author: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and education When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.