Business travel can expose your employees to an increased level of risk when they are travelling both domestically and across the globe. Business travel has the potential to expose your staff to hazardous health situations, natural disasters and terror related threats. As a result, this elevated risk level heightens the corporate liability, legal and moral duty of care that a business has for its travelling workforce. The reality of travel risk within the corporate space has led to a shift in the approach towards risk management, where a strategic-company-wide travel management solution through a Travel Management Company is more likely to be adopted.
PART A – Travel risk management and Australian legislation
In Australia, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation ensures that managers are liable for the health and safety their staff irrespective of whether they are working within Australia or abroad. Over time, the WHS liability has shifted from just the business or ‘company policy,’ to the managers and key decision makers involved in travel management.
Summary of Legislation Requirements
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations), the duties of a person conducting business or undertaking (PCBU) and an officer’s due diligence obligations in respect to managing workers overseas are identical to those onshore. A ‘workplace’ is defined under Section 8 of the WHS Act, to be a place where work is carried out for a PCBU and includes any place where a worker goes or is likely to be, while at work.
Under section 19 of the WHS Act, a PCBU must do what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure a worker’s health and safety. The level of influence or direction a PCBU has over a worker will affect what they can practically do to meet this duty of care in any given situation. In addition, a PCBU must ensure that work carried out as part of the business or undertaking does not put other people at risk.
What does ‘reasonably practicable’ mean?
The term ‘reasonably practicable’ is used as the legislatively required Work Health and Safety standard for duty holders to meet in WHS jurisdictions.
The term ‘reasonably practicable’ is defined in the WHS Act (section 18) to mean that which is or was reasonably able to be done, taking into account and weighing up all matters relevant to the circumstances in which the risk was considered, including:
- the likelihood of the relevant hazards or risk occurring
- the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk
- what the person knows about the hazard or risk and the ways of eliminating or minimising the risk
- the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk.
After assessing the extent of the risk and ways to eliminate or minimise the risk, duty holders must also consider whether the cost of eliminating or minimising is grossly disproportionate to the risk.
Part B – Travel Risk Management: Key Process Analysis.
Professionals at Travel Risk Management Company, Risk Line, convey that these key process areas (KPAs) are the core components of any company TRM program.
Key Process Areas:
To most effectively manage travel risk for employees, managers must review these Key Process Areas’ in relation to their own TRM initiative. This standardised analysis will help to identify where the weaknesses are in any given travel risk management plan. Below is a brief summary of each KPA and its relevance to your TRM program. At the lower levels of program development, these KPAs would be implemented within the travel program, whereas for higher levels, these processes are combined into broader organisational risk management and business resilience programs.
Policy and procedures is in reference to the company’s travel policy, in conjunction with the travel risk management policy. This policy should include information regarding ‘typical’ travel risk as well as risks that are inherent to the company’s travel activities. Mark Reddy of Travel Beyond conveys the following regarding TRM processes, “At Travel Beyond Group, we understand the importance of looking after staff members and ensuring they understand the risks of the location they’re visiting. Travellers need to understand destination risks and feel secure that in the event of an emergency their organisation has robust processes in place to locate, connect and evacuate”
Training is an integral part of employee professional progression, and ensures staff have the ability to perform their jobs in an efficient, effective and as safe manner. Professional travel risk management advisories have identified that traveller training, travel advisor training and crisis management training are the three key areas in which staff must be continuously developed.
- Risk Assessment
Assessing risk is the base of any TRM program; each meeting, travel journey and events should be evaluated for the potential threat of risk. When reviewing risk, businesses must determine whether it is a risk to an employee’s health and safety, or an impact to your business? Building a rubric for your business will let you scale life safety and business impact ratings for any given security disruption.
- Risk Disclosure
The overall objective of risk disclosure is the ability to effectively communicate important risk based information to all relevant to stakeholders. During this process, it is imperative to communicate what the actual threat is, and what its impact is likely to be though adopting short and simple language, without jargon.
- Risk Mitigation
In terms of risk mitigation, Murray Warner of Concur ANZ, says that Implementing a tool that captures all corporate travel bookings, keeps track of all flights and hotels, and has push notifications to reach employees via a mobile app can help the business contact employees and keep them safe in the event of a threat.
- Risk Monitoring
Effective business management depends on reliability and punctuality no matter the time of day. Being in the travel business, Travel Beyond Group understand that emergencies can strike at any time of the day or night across the globe. No matter where you are in the world or what time it is, Travel Beyonds’ business travel services are available to you 24/7.
For a TRM program to be successful, it is essential that clear and easy to understand processes are in place to enable employees to access the appropriate level of support depending on the risk level.
In the notification process it is crucial that the suitable people are informed of any relevant travel risk information prior, during or post trip to make swift and thoughtful risk-related decisions.
- Data management
Companies that have a travel program with a single TMC, such as Travel Beyond Group, are in the optimum position to leverage data collection and utilisation for online TRM automation.
It is important that all relevant elements of your companies TRM program is communicated to all employees. This transparent communication ensures that all levels of your workforce are aware of the TRM and gives staff an understanding of what to expect from the program, as well as what is expected of them.
PART C – Travel Risk Management through Travel Beyond Group
Travel Beyond Group offers their clients an end-to-end travel management solution, thus critical to a market leading travel program is a suitable risk management solution. Travel Beyonds’ Mark Reddy conveys that, when businesses are identifying risks and communicating them to employees, it’s important to be proactive. Organisations must aim to mitigate risks to employees, or at least minimise their discomfort and their inconvenience, until they return safely. This is vital for staff morale and security when employees travel on behalf of the business.
Real Time Information
We provide our clients employees with crucial real-time access to world events and location data as well as up-to-date itinerary information. In addition to this, Travel Beyond includes automated impact analysis that’s matched to your employees’ current locations. Below is an overview of our TMC Risk Messaging product that we deliver to clients to ensure the risk of travelling is comprehensively managed while on business:
- Destination specific risk advice delivered at the time of booking
- One portal for all location data, destination risk profiles, HR risk logs and traveller locations
- Real time data (updates every 20 minutes) so you don’t rely on others for current location information
- View employee locations and country-specific rick levels ensuring you can prioritise in emergencies
- Two-way communication via email/phone/SMS and confirmation message is read and received
- Blanket communication to all travellers to share specific messages and/or destination intelligence
- Complete integration with all TBG itineraries to ensure accurate data of staff locations.
Travel Beyond Group, keeping your employees safe and up to date. To find out more infomation on how TBG can manage your business travel risk, call your dedicated Account Manager on 1300BEYOND.