With more organisations working globally, Mark Preston looks at what health and safety requirements they need to consider.

Globalisation is encouraging many organisations to send more staff abroad on business and to employ local staff overseas. This raises the issue of what duty of care those organisations have to their staff, both with regard to UK health and safety legislation and duty of care requirements as well as the requirements of the country they are visiting. Indeed this is one of the fastest-growing areas of risk management.

There are of course two areas to consider, your staff that are travelling abroad and the local staff being employed.

Staff Travelling Abroad

Threats range from the usual workplace risks to theft, assault, security, terrorism, political upheaval, infectious diseases and natural disasters, all of which increase the risk to a business traveller and thus the potential liability to the employer.

Organisations sending staff overseas must manage their health and safety and must have a system to help do this.

We’ve been working with a number of clients to provide international travel risk assessments as well as providing guidance on local legislation and customs.

As the threat of violence appears to be increasing we have now launched our own security service that provides security advice and training, including bespoke behaviour recognition programmes to help businesses of all sizes improve their employees’ global travel safety.

Working with our partners, we can now provide country and region-specific safety and security information, e-learning and bespoke training packages to help companies manage their international travel risk. There is also a plethora of information across the internet that can be pooled to provide comprehensive resources for your staff. However, it is advised that you seek professional assistance in this area.

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Requirements for Local Staff

When employing staff locally organisations have a requirement to comply with local legislation. Often that legislation is more robustly enforced on overseas organisations, particularly after any incident. It is thus essential that companies identify local health and safety legislation and requirements and be able to develop systems to address these requirements.

It’s important that local requirements are tied in with global organisational requirements, and that there is not the considerable disparity between different systems, for the health and safety of staff visiting and working locally.

We have assisted a number of global organisations in identifying national health and safety legislation, providing safety consultants to visit, inspect and review and, where necessary, sit on safety committees to provide guidance. While much legislation is still based on risk assessment there are often specific requirements that need to be addressed, including fire assessments, setting up of safety committees and even medical requirements.

Written by Mark Preston, this article features in the Cardinus Connect, our risk management magazine.

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