Saturday 20 February 2016

GUEST BLOG: Incidents overseas: What to do when disaster strikes

Risk is everywhere. Even cities generally considered safe for business travel can be subject to unexpected and devastating events that impact traveller safety and business continuity.

Legally, under the UK’s Health & Safety legislation, companies owe a duty of care to their employees and must take reasonable steps to protect their personnel – from sourcing safe vehicle hire to understanding the employee’s pre-existing illnesses. Completing a risk assessment is the first and most salient step to compiling a duty of care plan and safeguarding your employees. Hazards exist in every location and vary greatly, so it’s important to understand the unique threats and risks associated with each country. Whilst such robust planning can appear daunting at first, effective planning can ensure that you minimise the possible risks on every trip abroad.

Occasionally, as we have seen in Paris – even with the most comprehensive policy and practises in place – unexpected incidents can occur whilst you may have colleagues overseas and it’s therefore of paramount importance that you are equipped to respond.

The nature of your response will depend on the nature of the incident – if a terrorist attack occurs, it is usually advisable to remove the individual from the affected area as quickly as possible, whilst if an employee becomes gravely ill, it may be best for them to receive care on location to minimise further damage to their health. Alongside managing the incident and repatriation of an employee, it is also essential to keep the individual’s family and colleagues informed of their situation.

Legally, employers do have responsibility for their employees, and ethically the media and general public can be unforgiving if they feel that a business has not provided adequate care for their employees. As such, if your employees are subject to serious harm and you do not have adequate measures in place to protect them, the legal and ethical implications could leave your business liable not only for damages, but also a drop in value, as well as a shattered reputation.

Many risks can be avoided by taking simple precautions – from tracking the employees’ movements to monitoring news channels and observing updates from the World Health Organisation. Legally, ethically and morally, businesses should consider whether the practices they have in place are sufficient when it comes to protecting their workforce. And, if they fall short, they should give their improvement urgent attention.

Anvil will be exhibiting at the Business Travel Show 2016. For further information, visit


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