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Warning: Your employees' overseas business trips could be a health and safety risk

by , 06 August 2014
Business travel is just another part good business. But do you ever stop to think about where you send your employee for business and if he's safe there?

For example, if one of your employees has to travel to West Africa soon, he could be in serious danger. The Ebola virus outbreak has claimed thousands of lives already. Emergency services in these areas can't keep up. This is a huge health and safety risk! If your employee is on his way there, he could be the virus's next victim.

This is just one example of a life threatening business trip. There are many others, but luckily you can protect your employee. Here's how...


Here's the first step to protecting your employee during foreign business trips

When it comes to protecting your employee on his business trip, you first need to consider the dangers he faces. They could include:
- A virus outbreak like the Ebola virus;
- Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or hurricanes.
- Civil unrest or war; and
- Crime.
The level of danger will depend on the country and the type of risks. For example, risks for 'civil unrest and war' are higher in Gaza right now than they are in North Korea. 
Once you know what risks your employee faces, you must take the right steps to protect him.
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Your 1 527 health and safety duties as an employer

When was the last time you checked what disinfecting agents and cleaning materials your company uses? 
Do you comply with the Hazardous Chemical Regulations? 
There are over 1 500 items you must evaluate in your workplace according to the OHS Act and hundreds more from SABS 0400: National Building regulations. 

Once you know the risks, protect your employee during overseas business trips

Your next step should be to:
- See if the reason for the trip (e.g. meeting, negotiation or conference) can be postponed; or
- If it can move to your country or another safer country.
If it can't be, here's what you must do:
For virus outbreaks
Pay for your employee to get the relevant shots and medication before he goes. Help him get all the information he needs to find a doctor and get help if he falls sick while he's away.
Natural disasters, civil unrest or war and crime
Give your employee training on what to do in an unsafe situation. Arrange for someone in the other country to meet your employee there and help keep him safe.
Remember, your employee is on this trip because of your business so you must protect him before, during and after his trip.

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