More and more, Travel Risk Management is finally being addressed as organizations have realized the world is changing rapidly and what was done before, likely does not apply now. Cases are being litigated and lawsuits won due to a lack of knowledge and preparation on the sending organizations part. Much of the neglect is due to knowledge gaps, although some is due to cost (as it always is).
Many organizations are under the impression that they need to write policy for Travel Risk separately from other occupational safety and risk policies. This is not the case and it would make the task less daunting if organizations understood this. Rolling Travel Risk into a current security/crisis response plan would be much easier that trying to implement an entirely separate plan, although travel expertise is needed to write relevant and accurate travel policies.
We are asked to justify why Travel Risk Management should be as important a task as physical security of a building or safety measures taken on a factory floor. The answer we offer is in the form of another question; why would it not be as important?
Travel Risk is important mostly because organizations fail to acknowledge it as a vulnerability, therefore allowing organization members to travel without addressing the vulnerabilities at all. By failing to acknowledge threats or vulnerabilities associated with travel, the organizations is increasing the vulnerability level of their organization and putting their own people at risk. Organizations that have identified risks associated with travel, yet still refuse to address it could be found guilty of neglect, should an incident take place. A secondary effect of refusal to acknowledge travel risk is a false sense of security among travelers that could easily lead to a catastrophic event.
An easy way of determining the importance level of Travel Risk Management within your organization might be to ask yourself this, would I allow an employee onto a factory floor without a proper safety brief, or would I allow an employee to drive a company vehicle without ensuring they have a license to operate that vehicle (as well as insurance should an unavoidable event take place). Of course you would not, so why allow an employee or member to travel to an unfamiliar location without proper training and the information necessary to avoid a crisis situation.
Organizations have also refused to provide the necessary mitigating services to their members because “nothing bad has happened so far”. This is an argument that has no validity in regards to mitigating risk in any area or on any topic. In finance, you would not say that “this customer has never defaulted on a loan before, so we should give them the money without a proper risk assessment”. The same goes for the physical security of a building. You would not leave the front door unlocked just because you are in an upscale neighborhood that has never experienced crime in the past.
There are many reasons that organizations could use to avoid implementing policies that address Travel Risk Management. Fortunately the safety of travelers is not one of them. Most organizations would agree that safety is paramount over cost and that their company would not operate very efficiently without good workers. Understand that Travel Risk is very much a threat to your organizations continuity and success. If you continue to ignore it, you will be blindsided by civil and possibly criminal litigation. Don’t put your head in the sand, take the lead in corporate responsibility. Protect your investment in human capital and implement the safety measures necessary to avoid crisis situations abroad.