Introduction

Workplace health and safety has become commonplace for most companies globally. However, the same basic standards and compliance are conspicuously absent for those whose workplace includes travel. If you want to know more about this mistake that could cost your business thousands if not rectified, then read on. In this article we will look at workplace health and safety, travel hazard identification, travel health and safety in conjunction with the potential business losses. By the end of this article you will have the four basic steps to evaluate your risk and the correction steps to save your business from significant loss.

Workplace Health and Safety

All developed countries have very mature workplace, site or project health and safety regulations, many with stiff penalties for noncompliance. While the overarching legislation provides compliance and standards guidelines, companies are able to apply their own evaluation and measurement of foreseeable threats, following a standardized methodology. This enables companies to benchmark their final results and permits replicatable processes.

Due to this common approach and process maturity, many companies have ventured even further by creating self imposed higher standards such as “no harm”, “zero loss”, “100% safe” and other similar internal campaigns to reduce or eliminate any-and-all injury in the workplace, site or project.

Workplace health and safety is not just practiced in the country of origin but also applied to all their various projects and worksites around the world as a global health and safety standard.

Construction companies have taken this philosophy to the nth degree by displaying at the point of entry to their project, all incidents, days lost, days since last safety event and so on.

Why is none of this applied to travel health and safety?

Travel Hazard Identification

Following on from the workplace health and safety model, activity and location risk registers are typically made before commencement of works and maintained throughout the life of the work activity. When was the last time you saw a travel health and safety risk register or hazard identification register that used a standardized methodology?

If you already have a workplace risk register, documenting the foreseeable threats, naked threat levels, treatment solutions, control measures and residual risk level following all modifier actions, why don’t you have the same documentation for travel health and safety?

If you don’t apply the same process, maintain the same documentation and conduct the same degree of education and communication to reduce the risk, for travel health and safety then you don’t a travel safety program at all. This mistake will not only cost you from a productivity and efficiency perspective but expose you to legal recourse should it be proven you have failed to mitigate the travel health and safety threats of your extended workplace and travel activity.

Travel Health and Safety

Travel health and safety is not an unachievable task. All the steps have been exhibited above. The only reason it has not already been applied to any company travel management program is due to ignorance, laziness, lack of education, lack of resources, over confidence and avoidance. None of which are defensible for companies that suffer loss of life, reduction in people capital, decreased productivity and financial loss.

Due to the amount or time consumed in business travel, travel may actually constitute a majority component of your overall “workplace”. This is particularly acute for companies with high people capital business models, that sees a lot of consultants, academics, professionals or contractors traveling to the client’s physical business site/s from their respective city/country of residence.

Business Loss

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Travel health and safety should be measured for loss to the business ranging from productivity to direct financial losses. The problem is that because the cumulative losses are rarely identified in a single cost centre or business unit and more likely spread across multiple functions and business units, businesses fail to identify or acknowledge these overall travel health and safety losses.

Tangible losses are one issue whereas the intangible losses are another matter entirely. Reputation, legal, market share, new business, training and development are all plausible losses from foreseeable risk.

Failure to implement a travel health and safety strategy will in time be discovered as a grave mistake and cost the company/business unit thousands of dollars (or more) in losses.

Conclusion

There is no requirement to do anything new, simply extend the current workplace health and safety methodologies to encompass “all likely places of work” which would include travel.

The four basic steps to correct this mistake are: 1. Identify the hazards; 2. Assess the risk; 3. Apply control measures; and 4. Manage the residual risk.

You should now be able to identify the significant void between workplace health and safety and that of travel health and safety, in particular hazard identification, regulatory compliance and the potential business losses.

Review your real status now. Identify the areas for improvement immediately, implement positive changes and enjoy the benefits that contribute to your business travel productivity, efficiency and safety. The information contained in this article will save you thousands in potential losses should you not consider travel a foreseeable risk to your business travellers or not consider travel an extension of your overall workplace.