Ensure your employees are well protected

Attacks, epidemics, accidents: ensure the safety of your employees abroad.

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Because of increased business internationalisation, employees are becoming more and more mobile. But generally, economically attractive areas have their risks, and there are several issues concerning security as well as health to consider. 

For example, for the last 15 years in France, businesses have had a civil and criminal legal responsibility to protect their employees. This means they're obliged to implement an effective risk management strategy which will help them to identify risks, inform employees and take action in cases of emergency.

Businesses must be able to identify and assess risks

Businesses must identify risks: Before sending employees overseas, health and/or safety and natural risks which may occur must be identified. The existence of aggravating factors such as employee nationality, corporate image overseas and employee roles must also be assessed. 

So, who should be responsible for this within the business? Large businesses often have a security department which is responsible for these matters, but that's less common within SMEs. Either way, a set of relatively simple measures can quickly be put in place. Businesses can turn to government agencies for guidance, or follow the recommendations of other national bodies. They can also seek advice from private companies. 

Preventing and managing risks

Once risks have been identified, the movements of employees working abroad must be mapped out prior to their departure. 

Preparing for departure and working overseas: Employees must be briefed before they leave for their trip. Briefings and language training must be offered, and guides detailing cultural differences must be made available. Employees must understand the risks involved and, above all, know what to do (and what not to do) in a given situation.  

Implementing security procedures: If potential risks have been identified, it's easier to implement security systems. Employee journeys, workplaces and accommodation should be made more secure. To ensure optimum efficiency, the business may call upon private security companies.

Guaranteeing the social protection of employees: Employees must undergo a complete medical examination before departure. Are they fit to travel to the country in question? Have they been vaccinated etc.? 
If employees are on secondment, they will be dependent upon the social security system of their home country. If they are expatriated, they will receive social security from the country in which they reside. The business needs to know whether or not this provision is sufficient. 

Complete coverage: Specific security insurance must be provided for high-risk missions. There is no shortage of corporations which provide solutions to assist businesses in covering all types of risks. Europ Assistance and Axa Assurances are some examples.

Knowing how to act in cases of emergency

Employees are on site. If, despite everything, an incident occurs, the business must be prepared to act. It must have a crisis management unit, a staff member who is responsible for security, regulations to be followed, and evacuation procedures. To achieve this, certain tools can help employees to act effectively.  

Effective tools: TravelTracker is an application offered by International SOS, a medical assistance service, and Control Risk, a specialist in all types of risks. It offers several functionalities to aid employee communication and assistance. It offers an interactive map which indicates the employee’s location and their surroundings. This application is already being used by almost three million people. 

Calling upon support services: Several support services offer these types of applications. Their functionalities can act as a team of experts in times of crisis. The latter is available 24 hours a day to deal with the implications of an accident. As a result, CEOs are not left to face an unforeseen event alone. In addition, these service companies may help CEOs to communicate effectively and/or to subsequently rebuild their image. 

The safety of employees working in a company overseas is paramount. Everything must be pre-planned. Employees must not, under any circumstances, be responsible for planning these procedures. They must be able to focus on their work, while complying with safety regulations to avoid placing themselves, and their business, in danger.  

Published by Julie on 22/09/2017 Photo credit: © Istock © Rawpixel
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