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If you have employees that travel for business, read this now!

by , 27 March 2013
If you have occupational travelers in your company then pay attention!

You have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment for all employees and that includes employees that travel for work (within South Africa or overseas) (Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act).

Yip that's right! Even when Mike, your company's star sales person  travels for work into Africa, you're responsible for his safety. 
You must ensure his safety and well-being while travelling, because he's effectively, still 'at work'.
To do so, you must manage any potential hazards and provide necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes immunization and anti-malarial treatment!
There're many health issues that employees may be faced with when they travel for business. Here's five of them…
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5 Health nightmares employees may face 
1. Jet lag can cause employees to be unproductive and lethargic as a result of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation also leads to mood alterations, attention deficits, slower reaction times, and increased risk for accidents;
2. Overindulgence in alcohol, food and risky behavior - The need to socialise with clients makes it difficult to control consumption of food and alcohol. The pressure of work can also lead to increased alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol can lead to accidents, falls, dehydration and stomach upsets;
3. Stress - the stress of being on the road can reduce productivity during the trip and even lead to time off work afterward to recover;
4. Minor ailments e.g. rhinitis (nasal congestion) side effects from air-conditioners (aircraft or hotel); and 
5. Travellers' diarrhea -  Drinking water or eating food in a foreign country can cause diarrhea. Consider antibiotics for the prevention of travellers' diarrhea. Antibiotics taken twice a day can significantly reduce the risk of illness although the risk of side-effects should be taken into account, as well as the possibility of developing an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Your employees are on duty 24 hours a day when travelling overseas for work purposes. This means you're responsible for their health and safety 24 hours a day while they're away on work!
But, how do you make sure they're safe when you won't even be travelling with them? 
Let's take a look…
Do you have all 29 essential health and safety inspection checklists?
Your inspection checklist is your first step towards full compliance. Without it, your health and safety policy won't be legally compliant.
You have your health and safety policy drawn up, but how often do you check that your employees comply? The easiest way is to have a set of inspection checklists you can use each time you need to check that your safety measures meet the requirements of your risk assessment.

The travel destination is key for the right treatment
Do you your homework on the travel destination. Depending on the travel destination, your employees may be exposed to a number of infectious diseases (such as malaria). 
The risk of being infected will vary according to the area being visited, accommodation conditions, hygiene and sanitation, as well as the behavior of your employee. For example, Mike, while away on business trips, goes to bed early, doesn't party late in the hotel bars and doesn't eat or drink anything outside his hotel. He's behaving responsibly! 
Develop a travel medicine program. Some diseases can be prevented by vaccinations. 
Check out Chapter T01 on Travel Medicine for the Occupational Traveller in your Health and Safety Advisor for more on occupational travelers. The health issues occupational travelers can suffer from are only the tip of the iceberg. 
We'll show you step-by-step how to create your own travel medicine procedure, your legal obligations for special needs occupational travelers, pregnant occupational employees and so much more!  
Until next time.

Take care,
Kerusha Narothan
Managing Editor: Health and Safety Advisor
P.S. Take a look at what one of our club members had to ask regarding travelling employees. 

Are employees covered even if they don't go straight to the place of work in the city they have travelled to? For example, they first go to the hotel or guest house? 

Click here for the answer...

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