Travelling and working safely: how to respond to the unforeseeable

Published on Mon, 05/06/2017 - 09:31

The tragic terrorist attack in Manchester last month was a sad reminder that the legal duty of care placed on organisations is not just an academic exercise. Julia Graham, Airmic's deputy CEO, says people should be at the heart of any response.

Whilst it's important to be vigilant about the kind events we've seen in Munich, Paris, Nice, Manchester and most recently, London, events like these are not easily foreseeable. Yet the duty of care of any organisations can extend beyond measures you might take before an event considered foreseeable to those you invoke after an unforeseeable event has occurred.

Airmic members reported after the recent and terrible event in Manchester, that invocation of crisis management plans was a unanimous action. The immediate focus of attention centred was understandably on people - but not only those who might have been directly touched by the event and attending the concert in question, but also those who might know family or friends who had been there - and potentially colleagues in the workplace and especially in Manchester.

Access to an expert Occupational Health Psychologist should be embedded as part of all crisis management plans - knowing who to contact and how to reach them is not something to be doing after an event. You travel or health insurers may provide access to this service, otherwise you can approach the British Psychological Society.

Meanwhile, here are some simple things to share with your people taken from advice provided by Airmic partners, International SOS and Control Risks:

Top 12 considerations when in crowded places:

  1. If you're travelling to a country or city which is unfamiliar, do your homework before you travel;
  2. Take details of who to call if you have a problem regarding health or security issues;
  3. Let someone know if you plan to be away from home or work;
  4. Be vigilant but not alarmed; 
  5. Have a quick look at where the exits are in a location or on public transport in case you have to react;
  6. Have a charged mobile with you, so you are able to get access to information about disruption or any on-going incidents, as well as call for help, if necessary;
  7. Follow advice from those in authority, and have confidence in police, intelligence and security agencies to prevent/disrupt, or issue warnings;
  8. If anything happens, immediately leave the scene by a direct route in the opposite direction of any perceived threat or as instructed by those in authority;
  9. Find a safe location and, once there, move only if you need to find a more secure location; 
  10. Immediately attempt to communicate. Remember mobile networks might not be working, either as the volume of traffic increases, or as emergency responders reserve the network for their own purposes; 
  11. In the immediate aftermath, make reasonable attempts to account for any other members of your party. If you are in a group, stay together;
  12. If necessary, seek medical assistance immediately. Find out where any injured people will be taken and accompany injured relatives, friends or colleagues.

Airmic will be launching a new Travel Risk Management Guide at the annual conference in Birmingham 12 - 14 June.