Business travel putting companies at risk – Part 2

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As reported in Tuesday’s Corporate Risk and Insurance under the new Australian Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation, companies owe their travelling staff the same duty of care as their local workers.

But which travellers should companies be most concerned about - businessmen or women? According to research it’s the men. Women are more likely to seek out pre-travel advice, while men are more likely to take risks.

A review of International SOS case data of 50 large companies from 2009 – 2012 showed men required medical assistance more often than women. Three quarters of all of accident cases occurred in men, and the majority (70 per cent) of sickness cases were males.

“Men and women face somewhat different risks while abroad so companies need to prepare their travellers accordingly,” International SOS Regional Security Director, Simon Francis added.

In some cases activities that aren’t traditionally thought of as risky at home may not be safe overseas. Women who want to indulge in a spa day should know that pedicures in places where hygiene is not a priority can result in bacterial infections and there is a possible risk of blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B.

It’s important also that travellers know that low risk doesn’t equal low risk.

“Companies should be aware that destinations considered ‘low risk’ can still pose risks for unprepared travellers. For example, drink spiking can happen in almost any country, not to mention drinking to excess affects judgement, putting travellers at risk when overseas,” Francis said.

Tips from International SOS for mitigating travel risks:

  • Be prepared. Make sure the employee knows where they are going on arrival and how they will get there
  • Have transport policies and procedures in place – travellers are most vulnerable to targeted crimes around airports and other transport hubs. And be mindful while travellers may use official modes of transportation for work they may use Tuk Tuks or walk in their own time which also makes them more vulnerable
  • Inform staff of risks not only about the country but specific regions they may travel to. In some countries/regions/venues women may be unable to travel to
  • Take into consideration climate and altitude. Everyone has difference tolerances to heat, cold and high altitude, therefore ensure travellers are aware and prepared for the circumstances
  • Make sure employees understand local customs and culture. Be aware of perceptions around male/female relationships. In some countries in the Middle East and Africa if a woman requires a medical procedure, including treatment following an assault, a male partner or guardian’s consent is required not the patients’
  • Make sure travellers have had the required vaccinations and are informed disease risks such as malaria and typhoid

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